Neck Pain Caused by Technology

What is Tech Neck?

As the Technological Revolution continues we are surrounded by more and more electronics in all aspects of our life. We use our cell phones as our alarm clocks, followed by watching TV while getting ready to go work on a computer. As more and more technology is available we are getting more and more focused on screens. Tech neck is the new name given to neck soreness from endlessly sitting in front of a computer, tablet, phone, etc. This pain is usually in the neck but can also be in the mid-back or even low back.

What causes it?

As we look at technology our posture changes. Our shoulders hunch forward, our neck begins to strain since it is now at an uncomfortable angle, and our eyes begin to squint and strain as we focus to read our screens. Our heads are meant to be carried in a neutral position over the rest of our bodies. When we have our head bent forward looking at the screen we are adding straining to our neck. This constant forward posture begins to create tension leading to tech neck.

Tech Neck vs. Text Neck

In 2014 a study was performed that determined the weight supported by the spine dramatically increases when we bend our head forward. This study mainly focused on the stress and straing put onto our spines when using cell phones or other smart devices. The author of the study, Dr. Hansaraj, found that when your spine is neutral your head should weight 10-12 pounds. At 45 degrees forward the head now weighs 49 pounds. He determined that these changes cause Forward Head Posture or what he labeled “Text Neck.”

Text neck can pull the entire spine out of alignment. This can lead to long term muscle strain, disc herniations, and chronic pain. Text neck has also been found to lead to early arthritis.

The Future of Neck Problems

Did you know that in the United States there are over 6 billion texts sent a day?! The average person checks their phone over 50 times and spends almost 5 hours a day on their phone. This numbers are alarming when you realize this is almost an extra 50 pounds of pressure through the spine during every minute spent on the phone. This extra stress can eventually lead to the neck curving in the opposite direction that it is suppose to. This is beginning to be seen earlier and earlier in life. What does this mean for the next generation of children? Research is still looking to see what will happen to the development of children’s spines and more and more technology is being used.

What can we do?

Unfortunately it is challenging to recommend a safe position for smartphone usage. If we recommend holding your phone at eye level, this can lead to stress through the shoulders and shoulder and neck pain from this posture. The best advice is to take a lot of breaks from your devices. Stand up, walk around, put movement back into your body.

Dr. Stefano Sinicropi has the following suggestions to help be more aware of your chances of having early arthritis and neck pain by how you are using your phone:

  1. Be Aware. Pay attention to the position of your arms, shoulders and neck
  2. Set Time Limits. Take a 3 minutes break for every 15-20 minutes on your device.
  3. Set Automatic Reminders. Make the time-outs easy to implement.
  4. Use a Tablet Holder. This will help to decrease your neck flexion.
  5. Take Action. Pain is a warning signal that something is wrong. If you are in pain don’t ignore it.

The Chiropractic Factor

Chiropractors are trained to determine the cause of neck and back pain. Ask Dr. Elyssa to perform a posture analysis on you and your spine to see if you have early signs of degeneration and if technology use may be contributing to your neck pain, back pain, and headaches. If you or your children are suffering from any tech neck symptoms, schedule an appointment today.

To learn more about tech neck read the full newsletter here.

Resources: Dr. Claudia Anrig-The Wellness Family

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