Muscle spasms, fatigue, neck pain, and stress headaches are three things that can be caused by the constant use of your phone and other technologies — but that isn’t all.You may have heard the term, “tech neck” before, but what exactly does that mean? How can technology play a larger part in your overall neck health later down the line? Are there things you can do to prevent this and other neck problems from becoming your future?Luckily, we’re here to help you answer that exact question.Read on to learn about the role technology has to play in your neck pain.
What Is Tech Neck?
Put simply, tech neck is a pain caused by electronics. The issue isn’t a new one, though.When explained further, tech neck is actually neck pain that’s caused by repetitive strain and injuries to the muscles and other structures that make up the cervical spine, and this issue has been around for a long time.Things like car accidents, falls, sports, and other activity-related injuries can also cause injuries to the cervical spine. The biggest difference, though? You can prevent tech-related injuries.Sure, you can take precautions like wearing your seatbelt or protective gear when you’re in the car and playing sports, but you never know when accidents are going to happen. Tech neck, however, comes with symptoms and other preventative measures.
What Are the Symptoms?
Some symptoms of tech neck include:
- Neck spasms
- Stiff neck
- Pain between shoulder blades
- Difficulty looking up after looking down for a long time
In severe cases, you can also experience numbness, tingling, or even weakness that spreads to your arms due to a pinched nerve.If you experience these symptoms, there are things you can do to reverse and even help build muscles that have been injured.It’s also important to see a medical professional like Dr. Qandah at CNY Brain and Spine Neurosurgeryto get a personalized treatment plan for your neck and back pain.
To know prevention, you need to know the cause.Yes, tech neck can come from looking down at your phone for too long, but it can also come from sitting at a desk for prolonged periods of time. So if you have an office job, this can apply to you too. Luckily, there are a few steps you can take.
Don’t Sit up Straight
When you sit up perfectly straight, you not only put pressure on the discs in your lower back, but you also force the muscles in the back of your neck to contract so your head is held up.Instead of sitting up perfectly straight, recline your seat so it’s situated at a 25-30-degree angle. Doing this takes any added pressure out of those lower discs and your neck. You’re placing part of your body weight onto the chair, so your spine feels less force and you feel less pain.
Create an Ergonomically-Correct Workstation
Sure, getting a good desk chair is ergonomically correct, but there are other steps you can take for the perfect setup. When you’re sitting in your chair, try to keep your knees level with your hips.Your monitor should be an arm’s length away, and your wrists should sit straight with your elbows at a 90-degree angle.
Breaks are important when you’re sitting at a desk or on your phone all day. Not only does taking breaks help to restore your energy and mental resources so your performance improves, but it also decreases the development of fatigue, sleep disorders, and cardiovascular disease.It’s also important to give your eyes a break from the screen, as well as your neck. Both are more prone to strain when staring at a screen for too long.You can time these breaks by using the Pomodoro Method if you like. For every 25 minutes of work, take a 5-minute break. For every 45 minutes, take a 15-minute break, or take a 10-minute break after 50 minutes of work.
Stretch and Strengthen
You can prevent tech neck, or help to heal it, by stretching and strengthening the cervical spine. Even a daily walk can prevent this and other things like spine problems with your sciatica.
Do Not Ignore Pain
The worst thing you can do for your neck or spine health is ignore any pain you feel in the regions. When you feel pain, it’s important to increase the amount of movement you get throughout the day, and also change the way you sit or treat yourself while on your electronic devices.If you take those steps and the pain persists, then you must get to a doctor before the problem worsens. A medical professional is going to know exactly what is happening and they’re going to know how to fix it.
Other Negative Side Effects
Tech neck isn’t the only negative side effect that can result from sitting and staring at screens for too long.A lack of physical activity can also increase your risk of chronic health problems, like heart disease, diabetes, and even some cancers. It also has a negative impact on your mental health.All it takes to counter these negative effects, however, is getting outside for 30-60 minutes a day. Stand while you’re at work or while you’re watching TV at night, and remember to stay hydrated throughout the day.
Take Care of Your Body Today
After reading this, you might think the best way to prevent tech neck is by never picking up your phone again, but that doesn’t have to be the case.Getting away from the screen from time to time is important not only for your physical health but also your mental health. If you’re worried about this becoming an issue for your kids, try using parental controls on their devices and limiting their screen-time every day.If you are experiencing neck pain, schedule an appointment with Dr. Qandah at CNY Brain and Spine Neurosurgery and get the relief you need.