Does every day seem to end with a literal pain in your neck? If you’re like many Americans, even before the global pandemic you were spending hours of every day fixated on a small screen. The instant access that modern technology and handheld devices give you to consuming news, entertainment, and social stimulation through your mobile phone, tablet, or laptop can come with a price.
The result is tech neck, also known as text neck. This now formally recognized medical condition can be recognized by its now hallmark symptoms, including:
- Neck stiffness and rigidity
- Back of the skull headaches
- Pain radiating from the base of your skull down into your shoulders and upper back.
Text neck basics
It’s estimated that 7 out of 10 people experience neck pain at some point in their lives. Text neck is rapidly becoming one of the leading reasons for this kind of localized pain. It usually starts as a feeling of tightness across the back of the neck. After a while, pain starts shooting up into the back of your skull and down into the top of your spine. The tightness and pain are caused by compression of the nerves at the back of the neck, where the top of your spine connects to the bottom of your skull.
Causes of text neck
The average human head weighs in the general neighborhood of 10 pounds when you’re looking directly ahead. However, whenever you tilt your head forward and down, the weight increases. For example, if you tilt your head forward at only a 60-degree angle, suddenly you have the equivalent of a 60-pound weight pulling on your neck. Guess what angle your head is at if you are holding a mobile phone at chest level and looking down at it.
Damage caused by text neck
Over time, the strain and tension of the added pressure at the place where your spine and skull meet can cause damage to the nerves clustered there. You may even bulge or herniate a disc at the very top of your spine. This can mean extreme pain, and an inability to turn your head or straighten your shoulders without discomfort.
Preventing tech neck
The easiest way to avoid tech neck is to be aware of your posture. If you use a handheld device, hold it up to eye level and keep your chin parallel to the floor. If you use a laptop or PC, position the computer or monitor so that you don’t have to look down.
If you think you have developed text neck, we can help. Contact Syracuse Area Health – Strasburger Orthopaedics for a consultation today.