Your devices may make it easier for you to stay connected with friends, family, and work no matter where you are, but all that time you spend with your head down and shoulders hunched may be wreaking havoc on your neck.
The dull achy pain you feel in your neck at the end of the day may be due to what we here at Alpenglow Pain & Wellness refer to as tech neck. While tech neck may sound like a fun play on words, it can lead to long-term pain issues. Our neck pain specialist, Nichelle C. Renk, MD, wants you to know the dangers of tech neck and what you can do to protect yourself.
The weight of your head
Unlike the rest of your spine, your neck — referred to as your cervical spine — sits all alone above your shoulders and below your head without any additional support from other body parts, all while supporting the 10-11 pounds of your head. But this freedom gives you the ability to move your head in all directions.
While your neck endures a lot of stress carrying around your heavy head, your body is designed to be supportive to minimize excess strain on any one body part. When your head is up and your shoulders back, the rest of your body helps support the weight of your head to reduce stress and strain on your neck. But when your head is bent forward your head may put as much as 60 pounds of stress on the muscles, ligaments, and joints in your neck and upper back.
Dangers of tech neck
It’s estimated that Americans spend almost three hours a day on their mobile devices, but not making phone calls. Most of the time is spent on apps and the internet. This means that for as many as three hours a day, your neck and upper back are supporting the weight of a 6-year-old while you scroll through the apps on your phone.
No wonder the muscles in your neck and upper back feel so achy at the end of the day.
Unfortunately, you may begin to experience more than muscle aches. Over time, the excess weight on your neck and upper back increases the wear-and-tear on the discs that separate your vertebrae and may lead to more chronic conditions such as arthritis or a herniated disc. And even worse, the constant strain may result in chronic neck pain.
How to protect your neck
Even if you rely on your device for work, there are steps you can take to reduce the strain on your neck and your risk of developing tech neck. Aside from putting your phone down and disconnecting, you may be able to minimize the stress on your neck if you make it a point to keep your phone, as well as your computer and tablet, at eye level. This reduces your need to bend your head down.
At Alpenglow Pain & Wellness, we also recommend you pay more attention to your posture during other activities, such as driving, watching TV, or walking. Keeping your head up and your shoulders positioned over your hips helps maintain the natural curves of your spine and proper distribution of your weight.
Building your core muscles also improves upper body support, which may help alleviate some of the stress and strain on your neck.
Managing your neck pain
Whether from spending too much time on your device or some other cause, you don’t have to live with your neck pain. Dr. Renk is a neck pain specialist and offers many innovative treatments that not only relieve your pain, but may prevent a recurrence. Some of our neck pain treatments include:
- Trigger Point Injections
- Botox® for Chronic Migraine Headaches
- Physical therapy
- Nutritional supplements
We also offer radiofrequency ablation that heats the tissue at the site of your pain to treat the sensory nerves responsible for your discomfort.
To learn more about the dangers of tech neck and what you can do to protect yourself from chronic neck pain, call us at Alpenglow Pain & Wellness today.