Tech neck, also known as "text neck", is currently a major problem in modern society. I'd call it the next pandemic, but it's been a huge problem for a while now. So let's take a look at what it is and what can be done to fix tech neck.
What is tech neck?
Tech neck is a form of neck pain which is caused by strain to the tissues of the cervical spine (neck) from repetitive forward head posture. This posture is commonly found while seated at a computer or from looking downward at a cellphone (hence the name "tech neck" or "text neck" or "computer neck").
When the head is tilted forward in front of the body (instead of directly over the neck) it multiplies the amount of work required for the neck to hold the head up. This means that the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the neck are under increased amounts of strain, often for prolonged periods of time.
This posture effectively increases the "weight" put on your neck by as many as 3-5 times! That's like taking your normal 12 pound head and making it weight 36-60 pounds!
Over time, this increased pressure on your neck leads to strain of the muscles, ligaments, and tendons of your neck and upper back creating stiffness and pain, and it could lead to more serious issues such as disc problems, bone spurs, or nerve impingement (radiculopathy).
What are the symptoms of tech neck?
- Aching and pain in the area of the neck, upper back, and shoulders
- Headaches or migraines
- Decreased range of motion in the neck due to stiffness and pain
- Increased tension or pain in the muscles of the jaw (which may contribute to TMJ dysfunction)
- Symptoms of nerve impingement (pain, tingling, or numbness into the arms, hands and fingers)
How do you treat tech neck?
What is the best treatment for tech neck? The answer here is simple: avoid the offending posture(s) altogether!
Okay, this may sound too simple, but it truly is one of the most important parts of correcting this problem. Removing the offending posture is the quickest way to relieve the strain on your neck and allow the tissues to heal.
But for many of us, we cannot just stop working at a computer or we might lose our job. Many of us need our cellphones regularly for work communication or for helping to run our business. But this doesn't mean that we don't have options still to fix this problem.
- Check your computer set up; odds are you need a more ergonomic set up. This alone can be hugely beneficial
- Hold your cell phone at eye level. If your arms are getting tired, maybe that's a good sign that you need a break from the phone
- Take regular movement breaks. Get up, move around, gently stretch and move your body every hour. This alone can be a major help
- Do the legs-on-a-chair pose once or twice per day. Lying in this posture relaxes the muscles, tendons and ligaments of the neck, shoulders, and entire back. It gives a chance for the body to realign and gives a needed break to the strained structures of the neck.
- Need extra help with your tech neck? Try acupuncture. It is amongst the most effective therapies for relieving neck pain and providing lasting benefits.
Acupuncture is amongst the first therapies I go to when dealing with tech neck or any other form of neck strain. Like pictured above, we can use electroacupuncture to modulate the nerves of the cervical spine (neck). This means that it calms down hyperactive nerve signals, decreases muscular tension, and promotes normalized blood flow not just to the neck and upper back, but to the entirety of your arms, hands, and fingers. This is amongst the safest and most effective ways to relieve pain and inflammation and comes with the added benefit of calming the nervous system (which tends to relieve stress and anxiety).