Did you know experts estimate at least a quarter of Americans suffer from neck pain? And the pain it causes doesn’t stop at the neck. When you’re suffering from neck pain, everyday activities like driving, exercising, or even getting dressed become excruciating.
Much of the neck pain Americans suffer from today stems from their relationship with technology, giving it the nickname “tech neck.” And as the time you spend with technology like computers, phones, and TVs continues to grow, it’s likely the pain in your neck will, too.
Chad Mathey, DC, and our team at Crown Medical Center can treat your neck pain quickly and effectively, allowing you to get back to your daily routine fast. In the meantime, there are things you can do to remedy tech neck and prevent a recurrence.
If you’re suffering from neck pain, read on to learn about tech neck and what you can do to keep it away.
What causes tech neck?
Your neck is incredible. Not only is it home to important organs and glands, it provides protection for your spine and houses the nerves, muscles, ligaments, and tendons that support your head. And holding up a 10- to 12-pound head isn’t easy.
Your neck strains to support the weight of your head as you tip forward for long periods of time. This happens during the many hours of the day you spend hunched at your computer or looking down at your tablet or phone.
As your neck struggles to hold up your head, muscles in your upper back and shoulders strain, and your spinal cord and nerves stretch out of position. The result is tech neck.
Should I worry about tech neck?
Besides being a literal pain in the neck, tech neck leads to other health problems.
Extra pressure on your upper spine can shift intervertebral discs out of place or cause them to herniate. Slipped and herniated discs irritate and compress nerves in nearby areas. These pinched nerves cause pain, weakness, and a numb or tingling sensation in your shoulders and arms. In serious cases, surgery may be required.
Tech neck also wreaks havoc with your posture. When you use good posture, you help reduce muscle and joint strain. In addition, good posture helps keep stress levels lower through reduced cortisol levels.
When you’re suffering from tech neck, you compensate for the pain by changing your posture — and not for the better, since bad posture brings additional muscle and joint strain as your body tries to keep you balanced.
And if you’re already struggling with other spine or neck conditions, like cervical osteoarthritis and degenerative disc disease, tech neck can aggravate them. This makes it harder to treat and manage symptoms.
How can I remedy tech neck?
If you’re suffering from neck pain, you need to identify the source. Not all neck pain is the result of tech neck.
As a neck pain specialist, Dr. Mathey evaluates your neck pain for possible causes. He and our team work with you to plan supportive and corrective therapies to ease your pain and restore your mobility.
At Crown Medical Center, we use a holistic approach to health with the goal of helping your body help itself heal. Possible treatments for tech neck include, but are not limited to:
- Spinal decompression
- Spinal manipulations
- Massage therapies
- Physical therapy
- Nutritional support
While you wait for your appointment, you can use ice and heat packs to reduce swelling and inflammation and anti-inflammatory drugs, like ibuprofen, to reduce pain. In addition, gentle stretching can help alleviate pain by improving stiffness and range of motion.
How can I prevent a recurrence of tech neck?
Prevention is the best way to avoid a recurrence of tech neck. Here are five tips to follow to prevent tech neck:
Watch your posture
Sit and stand with good posture. One simple tip is to roll a sweatshirt or towel and place it between your back and your chair to support your lumbar spine.
Take a break
Give your neck a break every half-hour. Change your posture, stretch gently, or go for a quick walk. Use an activity tracker app to remind you when to move.
Stay at eye level
Keep screens at eye level. This ensures you won’t need to bend your neck over the screen.
Exercise to strengthen the muscles in your neck, shoulders, and chest. Generalized strength-building exercises and regular physical activity help these areas improve.
Rest your head
Use a chair with a headrest. Keep the back of your head in contact with it when you’re on the computer. This helps keep you from looking down.
You don’t have to live with neck pain. Contact us at Crown Medical Center by phone or book an appointment online today.