Technology may be forward-looking, but our electronic devices most often have us looking down. The world over, people are reading magazines and novels, attending meetings and school, streaming full seasons of television shows, and attending to all professional and personal needs with the swipe of a screen and the flick of a finger. Due to all this, your neck may be feeling the strain. This is so common that doctors have a name for it – tech neck – and yes, doctors are concerned. So, consider your tech habits in regard to your smartphone or tablet, and ask yourself – do I have it?
Tech Neck – What Is It?
Tech neck is considered an overuse injury in which the head, neck, and shoulders suffer from an excessive strain from looking downward over long periods of time. Hanging your head downward can add up to 60 lbs. of extra pressure on the neck. The strain can result in an achy neck, sore shoulders, as well as headaches and eye strain. Over long periods of time, tech neck can lead to muscle strain, injured discs, arthritis in the neck, and nerve damage in the form of shooting pains down the arms.
How to Fix It
There are a number of ways to ensure tech neck doesn’t power you down. The simplest fix is to put the phone down, but in our society, that’s a tall order to fill. Instead, consider changing your behavior by conscientiously working to fix your posture when using a handheld device. For example, when looking at your handheld device, try to keep it at eye level, not below, which can strain your neck. Focus on tilting your head against a chair or a wall and raising your device up to your eyes. It may look and feel awkward at first, but the benefits are worth it.
Of course, there are apps for this, as well. Talk to your orthopedist or visit the app store for apps that will alert you if your posture is putting your neck at risk. You can also use your device to set automatic reminders to stretch your neck, shoulders, and back. Most importantly, listen to your body. You’ll know when enough is enough, and it’s time to either put the device down, stretch, or alter your posture to an ergonomically correct position.
What about your workspace?
Believe it or not, there are people who still sit at a PC or stand-alone computer. For them, tech neck is usually the result of not being properly positioned at their work station. That too can be an easy fix. Today’s ergonomic work stations may include stand-up desks that promote good musculoskeletal and neurological health. To avoid tech neck, be sure your eyes align with your screen, your feet are properly placed on the floor, and your elbows are parallel to the keyboard, not reaching up or out. Sit up straight and resist the temptation to hunch up your shoulders. Relax and stretch at least once every half hour.
Tech Neck Diagnosis and Treatment in Farmington Hills, Michigan
The board-certified orthopedic specialists at Tri County Orthopedics treat all types of orthopedic issues, including tech neck. Come in and see how we can improve your symptoms and guide you on how to safely use your handheld devices.
To schedule a consultation, give us a call at (248) 474-5575 or request an appointment online. We look forward to serving you!