In today’s modern society with the majority of people using at least some form of technology every day, it’s probably safe to say that most people can easily understand what “tech neck” is and probably have experienced at least a small amount of it themselves. Read on to learn how to prevent a small case of tech neck from turning into a more serious neck pain issue down the road.
Who is Vulnerable to Tech Neck?
On the surface, it might seem that the increased variety of technology devices available, such as smartphones, tablets, and devices with keyboards such as laptops and desktop computers, would provide individuals with enough variety of motion that muscle strain and/or nerve issues would be of little concern. In reality, the plethora of devices means that more and more people are using smartphones, either to talk or text, young people are increasingly using controllers when they play with video games and many people spend their evenings flipping through TV channels while simultaneously browsing on their tablet or laptop.
Along with personal use of technology devices, young people spend a significant part of their day either sitting and listening to a lecture at school or bent over their homework, while many adults work at positions (e.g. administrative assistant) that require them to sit a lot and/or use some type of computer, cash register, etc. These types of sedentary activities require an individual to keep their head and neck essentially fixated in one position for long periods of time, ultimately leading to muscle strain.
Since there are so many devices and they each require different neck, arm, and hand motions, the symptoms of tech neck are many. Poor posture from sitting a lot at a desk can lead to excessive stretching of the cervical paraspinal and suboccipital muscles located on the back of the neck, especially if an individual views an improperly positioned computer screen all day. This can lead individuals to experience symptoms such as tight cervical muscles, inflammation, headaches, muscle spasms, and perhaps even sensitivity to light.
Heavy use of smartphones, video game controllers, and tablets, all of which require repetitive use of one’s hands, wrists, and fingers can lead to symptoms such as arm or hand tingling and numbness, and in severe cases can even lead to arm weakness or weakness in the hand and/or fingers as well. Even hand-intensive activities such as texting can cause bad posture symptoms, as individuals often will have a forward head position as they look down at their smartphone screen.
Neck Pain Treatment
Since we do live in a technology-centric society it is unrealistic to think that people can simply avoid the use of technology devices. However, there are many things an individual can do to help reduce the strain on various parts of the body caused by these devices. Physical therapists are trained to look for issues such as bad posture and can offer their patients tips on how to sit and stand properly, as well as how to arrange computers and other desk equipment in order to avoid the slouching and slumping that is often exhibited by an office worker. Physical therapists also offer manual (hands-on) treatments designed to relax tight muscles and decrease pain, thus reducing inflammation in painful areas. A good PT can also recommend exercises that can stretch sore muscles, as well as other exercises designed to strengthen weak muscles in order to improve posture and allow for the proper support of the neck and shoulder area. With professional physical therapy, many patients report complete relief of their tech neck symptoms within four weeks.
If you think your throbbing, shooting, burning pain, or numbness and tingling is due to tech neck, we can help. Let us help you reduce your pain and strain. Please email us at: email@example.com or contact us today at 570-208-2787.
Written by Dr. Tim Dymond DPT
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