Tech neck is a modern form of neck pain. It’s used to describe neck pain caused by repeatedly straining the tissues in the cervical spine to look at a computer, phone, or tablet screen. By identifying the signs of tech neck, you can adjust your habits and implement at-home remedies to alleviate your pain.
Understanding Tech Neck
Simply looking up or down at a screen may not seem like enough to cause lasting neck pain. However, considering that the average adult head weighs 10 to 12 pounds, it’s not surprising. The ligaments, tendons, and muscles of the neck must support this weight, and when you tilt your head downward, your head exerts around 50 to 60 pounds of force on these tissues.
Your neck can withstand this force occasionally. But, when you keep your head tilted downward for an extended period, it can strain and even injure the neck tissues.
Signs of Tech Neck
The most common signs of tech neck include:
- Pain in the lower neck, shoulders, and upper back
- Sharp or stabbing pain in a specific point of the neck, shoulder, or upper back
- Reduced range of motion in the neck, shoulders, and upper back
- Worsened pain when you tilt the head down
- Tingling, numbness, and/or weakness in the arms or hands
Treating Tech Neck
To alleviate tech neck symptoms, try to rest your neck by refraining from looking down at screens. If you have to look at a screen for work, try to position the screen at eye level and take frequent breaks. Heat and ice therapy and over-the-counter pain medications can also help you manage your symptoms.
Additionally, hold your phone at eye level whenever possible and use ergonomic office equipment to promote better posture, including a supportive desk chair, laptop stand, and adjustable desk surface.
If you’re struggling with chronic neck pain, schedule an appointment with a spinal specialist near you.