Too Much Tech Could Be Causing Your Neck Pain
It's hard to imagine a life without smartphones, laptops, and tablets. These digital devices make it possible to shop, work, and keep in touch with friends and family from practically anywhere in the world. Although digital devices are undeniably convenient, they're also the reason that many people suffer from neck pain these days. Luckily, your chiropractor offers treatments designed to relieve your pain prevent permanent damage to your neck.
The Link Between Tech and Neck Pain
If you walk through any public place, you'll probably notice plenty of people engrossed in their phones. Nearly all of them will hold their phones around waist level and bend their heads forward.
Unfortunately, that posture stresses the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in your neck and may also change the alignment of the vertebrae, the small bones that add stability to your spine. Misalignments in the vertebrae, called subluxations by chiropractors, are a common source of neck pain.
The problem has become so common that it's even been given a name: text neck. Text neck affects people who keep their heads held forward for long periods of time. In fact, Saudi Arabian researchers discovered that more than 68% of the medical students in their study had text neck syndrome as a result of cell phone use. Other studies and case reports describe similar results.
Tech-related neck pain can be a problem even if you don't spend much time looking down at digital devices. Spending long hours working on a computer or playing video games are also risk factors for pain. You may be just as likely to experience neck and back pain when you're hunched over your screen at work or battling an enemy invader from your couch.
Do These Symptoms Sound Familiar?
Signs and symptoms of neck pain caused by tech use include:
- Pain and stiffness in your neck, shoulders, upper back, and arms
- Muscle spasms in the neck, back and shoulders
- Pain when moving your neck
- Numbness and tingling in your arms and hands due to irritated nerves
- Less flexibility when moving your neck
- Balance problems caused by posture changes
- Jaw pain due to subluxations and tight muscles
Subluxations can lead to pinched nerves and increased pain if a misaligned vertebra presses against a nerve. Constant stress on your neck and spine may also increase your risk of arthritis, bone spurs, slipped discs, and herniated discs. In some cases, text neck can lead to kyphosis (hunchback), an abnormal curve in the upper back.
No matter your age, balance problems caused by poor posture can result in falls. Subluxations and muscle imbalances may also increase your risk of an injury if you do happen to fall or lose your balance.
Rounding your shoulders and dropping your head when using digital devices prevents your lungs from expanding fully when you take a breath. As a result, less air enters your body, and your heart must work much harder to circulate oxygenated blood.
What You Can Do to Prevent and Relieve Neck Pain
These tips not only reduce pain, but can reduce your risk of developing permanent damage to your spine:
- Change the Way You Hold Devices: Hold smartphones and tablets at eye level. If you plan to use a phone or digital device for an extended period, use a holder that keeps the device at the appropriate level.
- Stretch: Walk away from digital devices at least once every hour. Stretch and take a short walk if you can.
- Pay Attention to Posture: Keep your head and shoulders back when using digital devices or playing games.
- Choose Ergonomic Furniture: Ergonomic chairs and desks help you maintain proper posture when using computers.
- See Your Chiropractor: Chiropractors correct subluxations with spinal manipulation, a treatment that realigns your vertebrae and reduces tension on muscles and tissues. Massage, another treatment option, loosens tight muscles and tissues and relieves muscle spasms. Your chiropractor can also offer posture tips and recommend stretches that will help you get rid of the pain in your neck.
Concerned about your neck pain? Chiropractic treatment offers an effective, natural way to treat your pain and reduce your risk of long-term damage. Contact our office to make an appointment.
Journal of Musculoskeletal Surgery and Research: The Prevalence of Text Neck Syndrome and Its Association with Smartphone Use Among Medical Students in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, 11/13/2021
WebMD: Text Neck and Other Tech Troubles, 11/26/2014