Daily living can be a pain in the neck. If it feels like that more often, it may be due to changes that common technology brings into your life. It’s called tech neck, or sometimes, text neck.
By either name, it’s a pain syndrome that sources back to questionable ergonomics caused by the use of devices such as smartphones and tablets. These devices require viewing and typing on the same plane, rather than a keyboard/monitor relationship such as with a desktop or laptop computer.
Flat surfaces common with the smaller devices tend to force an arms-down, eyes-down posture that makes users bend their neck to view screen data. This type of position works against the natural curvature of the cervical spine.
The bones of your neck permit this movement, but holding these positions for extended times strain the soft tissue that supports your neck.
Reading a book demands similar postures, and it can result in the same injuries and pain if it’s taken to an extreme. However, for many, technology has taken such a prominent role in their lives that the frequency and time spent with this neck posture is much more extensive than typical reading activities.
Rather than curling up and relaxing, a common way to read a book, texting, and other use of technology tends to demand your attention immediately.
You may be paying for the convenience of technology if you find that you have tightness, tension, discomfort, and pain in not only your neck, but your shoulders and upper back, too. Even then, the pain may extend beyond the original region of the injury.
Since nerves that travel to your arms and hands pass through the vertebrae of the cervical spine, poor posture of the neck can cause nerve compression that radiates from the site of the injury. So, you may have a nerve pinched at your spine, but the effects show up as tingling, numbness, or pain in your arms or hands.
The true dangers of tech neck are in the long-term effects you may be facing. Since this is a relatively new medical condition, there’s not a lot of studies yet about the effects of extended technology use.
Some medical experts believe that chronic tech neck may lead to early-onset osteoarthritis, as well as causing the better-known problems associated with other forms of chronic pain and nerve damage.
Eye-level viewing is important to prevent the damage you risk from tech neck, no matter what device you’re using. This isn’t always possible, so “tech breaks” are important, periods of time through the day where you’re taking 15 or 20 minutes away from your devices, changing positions, walking, and frequently re-setting your spine into normal alignment. Being aware of your posture is the first step in adjusting to a neck-friendly lifestyle.
If you’re already dealing with the effects of chronic device use, Dr. James Nassiri and the team at Westside Pain Specialists are neck pain experts. They can help you break the cycle of chronic pain and prevent permanent damage from tech neck.
Call either office or request an appointment online to get started on pain-free, tech-friendly living.