In our office today we are seeing more and more patients with a condition has come be officially known as “Tech Neck.”
So…What is Tech Neck?
Tech neck is now the medical term used to describe the injuries and pain sustained from looking down at wireless devices for too long. The symptoms associated with tech neck are:
• Chronic headaches
• Upper back pain
• Shoulder pain
• Neck pain
• Reversed curvature of the spine
Many recent studies are now suggesting that tech neck, and our societies growing reliance on hand held devices and technology, leads to the early onset of arthritis, spinal disc degeneration, nerve impingement and the potential for decreased lung capacity. Of course, tech neck does not occur only from texting. For years, we’ve all looked down to read a book or a newspaper. However, today the added problem with texting on our phones, using tablet PCs, and sitting for hours in front of a computer screen has added more activities that causes us to look down or excessively lean our head forward for long periods of time than in the past. This is especially concerning for our younger generation of children. Young, growing children are also growing more dependent on technology including cell phones and tablet PCs to find entertainment which could possibly cause permanent damage to their spines as they grow.
Recent studies suggest that 79% of the population, ages 18-44, have their cell phones with them for 22 hours per day! Many of our patients fall in this age range, so we see several cases each day of tech neck.
Recently, a patient came in complaining of severe upper back pain. He woke up and was experiencing severe, acute, upper back muscle strain as well as migraines. After taking a history and doing an exam it became evident that his condition was due, at least in part, to the extensive hours he was spending hunched over his cell phone: Diagnosis…tech neck.
How do we treat tech neck?
Prevention is key! First, hold your cell phone at eye level as much as possible. Second, take periodic breaks from using your cell phone, tablets and laptops throughout the day. And finally, practice good posture and office or home ergonomics.
Chiropractic adjustments combined with trigger point treatments and progressive functional rehabilitation exercises to counteract and retrain the supporting postural muscles are the best long term solution to tech neck once it occurs.