It’s not really a new condition, but this injury due to repetitive strain has earned its nickname from its most recent cause – our increasing use of screen technology. Looking down to use smartphones, computers, and tablets put stress on the muscles of our necks, resulting in pain and stiffness to our necks and shoulders. And since technology use is only increasing, so are the injuries.
On average, the adult head weighs between ten and twelve pounds, and that weight is supported by bones, tendons, ligaments, and muscles. When you tilt your head to look down at your screen, it places at least fifty pounds of pressure on neck muscles that weren’t meant to support that force for extended periods of time. This strain can lead to some of the following symptoms:
- Increased discomfort when the head is tilted forward
- Aching and general discomfort in the lower neck, upper back, and shoulders
- Sharp, stabbing pain
- Stiffness in the neck, shoulders, and upper back
- Jaw pain
- Tingling or numbness in the arms and hands
- Difficulty in maintaining good posture
There are various treatments that are available depending on the type and severity of Tech Neck symptoms. Some of the milder treatments include massage, guided physical therapy, and rest. For those with worse symptoms, trigger point injections, and nerve blocks can be possible treatment options.
While treatments are available, prevention is far more preferable when possible. Try keeping screens at eye level instead of looking down. You can also learn and practice stretching exercises to relieve muscle tension and strain on your neck. Focusing on developing good posture will also help not only your neck and shoulders but also your lower back and breathing. Taking steps now can go a long way in preventing pain and overall discomfort.