Have you ever been working on your phone or computer and felt a headache coming on? How about neck pain? Numbness and tingling down your fingers? This condition has come to be known as "tech neck" as it is becoming more widespread with the increasing use of phones and computers.
The neck when properly aligned on the head and looking straight ahead, weighs about 10 pounds. The muscles, bones and ligaments in the neck can easily be held into place without putting any strain on any of the structures of the neck. As you begin to lower your chin to look at your phone, the neck bends forward more and more, and the weight of the neck increases. If you look straight down at your phone so that your chin is close to your chest, your head can weigh up to 60 pounds. That means the muscles and ligaments in your neck that are designed to support 10 pounds for most of the time, are now supporting 60 pounds during the day.
To put this in perspective, imagine holding a 10-pound weight in your hand. Now hold that for an hour, which is not a far stretch for how long we look at our phones at a time. Now exchange the weight for a 60-pound dumbbell. Most people would only last for a few minutes, yet we demand our neck muscles to do this for hours on a daily basis.
Most people display subtle signs of tech neck — like soreness or stiffness at the end of the day— before it really becomes an issue. But those same subtle signs are the ones that often get dismissed or ignored until they become bigger issues. I hear it all the time, "I just thought it was normal" or "I'm getting older so I can expect to have some pain in my neck". You are correct if you have neck pain or soreness one day and it doesn't return. That isn't an issue or a sign of tech neck. But if you experience a sore neck, headache or get numbness and tingling every day or every week, these are all possible signs of tech neck that should not be ignored as the condition can progress to loss of strength in your fingers and hands.
What to do if you suffer from tech neck? The accompanying video it shows ways to massage your neck at home. In the beginning stages, where you feel some discomfort on a weekly or daily basis, doing some self massage can help decrease the pain and relieve your neck. However, it is important to note that no treatment for tech neck will work unless you correct our posture and limit the amount of times you wind up looking down at your device. Make sure that when you are using your phone that you are bringing the phone into a range where you just have to adjust your eyes and not change the position of your neck.
If your tech neck has progressed to pain every day, headaches that never go away, or numbness and tingling in your fingers, then it is imperative that you seek treatment from a medical professional. With those types of symptoms, the condition is very difficult to resolve on its own and most likely will continue to get worse without some outside intervention. And unfortunately there are no drugs that will correct tech neck. It will have to be through physical therapy and hands on intervention in order to correct the muscle strains that have occurred.
Tech neck is a condition that cannot be ignored and it won't go away on its own. Being proactive and taking care of tech neck before it gets worse will minimize the amount of time that it will take to cure.