Beware the Dangers of Tech Neck

Think about your daily life. You may wake up, look down at your phone to check emails or social media, then get ready for the day. You go to work and sit at your desk for eight hours or so, hunched over and looking down at your keyboard. Then you go home and pull up Candy Crush or Facebook on your phone to unwind after a long work day.

Does that sound familiar? What about chronic neck, back, and shoulder pain and stiffness, or an increase in headaches? If so, you may have a condition known as tech neck, also called text neck. 

What is tech neck?

Tech neck is both the term for the posture your body assumes when you’re hunched over a screen and for the injuries that almost always come along with it. Because of its flexibility and the stress caused by supporting your head all day, your neck is incredibly susceptible to pain, stiffness, and injury. 

Working at a desk all day and bending your head to look at your phone can end up putting more than 60 pounds of extra weight on your spine, leading to some serious spinal problems. As you bend your head for extended periods of time, the excess weight can cause the curvature of your neck to reverse and compress the discs in your spine, which in turn causes stiffness, pain, and headaches. 

Common symptoms associated with tech neck include:

Diagnosing tech neck

If you think you may be suffering from tech neck, your first step should be to schedule an appointment with us. Our neck specialists at the International Spine, Pain & Performance Center examine your neck and review your medical history and lifestyle. 

The examination consists of a visual overview of your neck and spine, plus testing to determine the mobility of your neck, arms, shoulders, and spine. Although this is often successful in diagnosing tech neck, we may also recommend diagnostic imaging.  

Preventing tech neck

The best way to prevent tech neck is to review and manage your use of technology in general. In today’s world, that’s definitely easier said than done, so the next best thing is to practice good posture and exercises. 

When sitting at your desk, try to keep your neck, head, and shoulders in a neutral position, aligned with your spine, and look at your devices with your eyes rather than bending your spine and neck. Some of our patients find that wearing posture correctors or using specialized posture-correcting pillows can help them to adjust their posture on a daily basis. 

In addition, start adding some easy but powerful neck strengthening exercises into your daily routine and keep an eye on your posture. Our physical therapists can design an exercise program specifically for you and teach you proper poster.

Tech neck is no fun, and it can lead to serious damage if not treated. If you have been experiencing pain in your neck, head, or shoulders, contact us today to schedule an appointment at either our Washington, DC, or Arlington, Virginia, office. 

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