If you’ve noticed that your neck is stiff and sore, and you have trouble moving your head, your phone or laptop might be the culprit. Constantly bending your head to see how many “likes” you’ve gotten, to play another round of Fortnite, or to catch up on the news can give you a case of the modern malady known as tech neck.
Your head is bigger than you think.
Even when you’re upright, the thin, cervical spine in your neck has a heavy load to carry. The average adult head weighs 10 to 12 pounds when your spine’s aligned and you’re standing properly.
Bend your head down just 15 degrees to watch a cat video, and now your neck’s holding up 27 pounds. Bend it 45 degrees to scroll through the trolls on Twitter, and your neck strains to support 60 pounds of weight.
Your neck muscles, tendons, and ligaments are not equipped to deal with such tremendous forces. Staring down at your phone or laptop for hours at a time can tear your muscles and tendons, herniate your vertebral discs, and irritate your nerves. Untreated tech neck could even cause permanent damage to your cervical spine.
If you have tech neck, pain expert Dr. James Nassiri of Westside Pain Specialists in Beverly Hills, shares 10 tips to give you relief and restore mobility:
1. Pay attention to posture
Though you don’t have to spend an hour a day walking around with a book balanced on your head, becoming more aware of your posture can help you avoid tech neck. Stand straight with your head centered over your neck, rather than jutting forward or pulled back.
2. Don’t hunch over
Just like your mom once told you: Don’t slouch. Not when you’re standing, not when your working at your computer, and not when you’re texting. You can ask a friend or co-worker to point out your hunched shoulders, so you can correct them quickly.
3. Raise your phone
Instead of holding your phone down near your waist, bring it up to eye level. Just that one adjustment lessens the amount of weight your neck must bear.
4. Raise your computer, too
If you use a computer at work or at home, raise the monitor to eye level, too. If you have a laptop, you may need to get a wireless keyboard so you can look at the screen at eye level, while keeping your hands working at a lower level.
5. Take tech breaks
Whenever you find yourself sitting or staring at a screen for an hour or so, it’s time to take a break. Stand up. Stretch your arms, hands, and neck. Squeeze your shoulder blades together, roll your shoulders back, and shrug with one shoulder at a time, 10 times for each exercise. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/do-you-have-a-stiff-neck-try-these-simple-remedies/
6. Strengthen and stretch
Yoga gently stretches and strengthens your neck and shoulder muscles to relieve tech neck. You can incorporate yoga moves in to your tech breaks, too.
If you go to the gym, talk to a trainer about how to strengthen your neck muscles. Dr. Nassiri also recommends physical therapy that’s designed just for your issues.
7. Take a pill
Over-the-counter, nonsteroidal, antiinflammatory drugs relieve stiffness, swelling, and pain. If your neck still hurts, you may need prescription corticosteroids or muscle relaxants.
When your neck’s sore and stiff, applying ice for the first 48 to 72 hours can relieve pain and reduce swelling. After that, switch to warmth with a heating pad, hot compresses, or a warm bath to help your muscles and tendons heal and stretch.
9. Get a massage
Massage increases the flow of blood and oxygen to your muscles and other tissues. If you can’t manage a professional massage, ask your partner to rub your neck and shoulders.
Self-massage is a great option, too!
10. See a doctor for repair and relief
Untreated tech neck can damage your spine. Your stiff neck could also be a sign of another condition, such as arthritis, meningitis, or a herniated disc.
If your neck is sore, stiff, and has limited mobility, Dr. Nassiri diagnoses the source of your pain and designs a treatment regimen just for you. Phone the helpful Westside staff for a tech-neck evaluation, or use the online booking form.