Tech neck can be a painful, frustrating condition for many people. This article will walk you through the causes of tech neck and the ways physical therapy can help relieve its symptoms.
What exactly is tech neck?
When many people hear the term ‘tech neck,’ they think of the future or science-fiction. But tech neck is a very real reality for nearly everyone who regularly hunches in front of a computer or looks down at their phone. Tech neck describes the neck pain and injury that is often caused by the repetitive strain of looking down at a phone or computer.
When we regularly tilt our heads down to look at our devices, we amplify the strain applied to our neck. Tilting the head down just a bit can multiply the amount of weight our neck and back muscles need to support. Over time, this strain can build up and cause radiating neck pain that gets worse every time we strain it. For some people, pain can even stretch further down into the back.
Tech neck can affect anyone, not just older adults or those with other neck or back conditions. Our necks are not designed for long periods of bad posture that involve intense strain. But because looking at screens has become a typical part of our daily lives, tech neck is becoming a very common condition.
What are the symptoms of tech neck?
Tech neck can bring about a variety of painful or uncomfortable symptoms. Here are some of the most common symptoms to keep an eye out for:
- Aching pain or soreness in the neck and upper back
- Stiffness in the neck
- Difficulty moving the neck
- Noticeably more neck pain when looking down at your phone or computer
- Tension headaches
- Neck spasms
- Intense pain in one specific area of the neck or upper back
The effects of tech neck can range from an annoying discomfort to a stabbing pain that interferes with your ability to function. It’s important to catch neck strain early before it has time to get worse. Over time, tech neck can develop into herniated discs, pinched nerves, and neck sprains if left untreated.
If you spend a considerable amount of time in front of a screen and start noticing any of these early symptoms, it might be time to get evaluated for physical therapy to see how it can help you start getting some relief.
Luckily, proper treatment can minimize many of tech neck’s most frustrating symptoms. A combination of physical therapy exercises and daily posture improvements can relieve much of tech neck’s strain, tension, and aching pain.
How can I relieve the pain from tech neck?
No one wants to deal with the frustration of neck pain, especially when it starts interfering with your daily life. Luckily, there are many steps you can take to start relieving the pain and discomfort that comes with tech neck. Here are some of the top strategies to keep in mind if tech neck has started bothering you:
Try out physical therapy
Physical therapy can give you the guidance and support you need to start relieving neck pain associated with tech neck. Physical therapists are armed with a wide variety of neck exercises and stretches that can help relieve tension and strain, and these exercises tend to be one of the most effective ways to combat tech neck. Regular physical therapy helps restore the strength of your neck muscles and counteract the effects of strain.
Remember your posture
Our screens force us to look down for long stretches of time, which puts strain on the neck muscles that keep our heads upright. It’s important to keep an eye on your posture during the day to avoid unnecessary strain. Good posture means your shoulders should be pulled back to be in line with your ears, and your back should be upright. Sitting in chairs with headrests can help you maintain good posture throughout the day.
Raise your devices to eye level
One of the biggest contributors to bad posture is the need to hunch over laptops and phones to look at our screens. To minimize this problem, start raising your devices to eye level when you use them. Hold your phone in front of your face instead of looking down. You can also elevate your laptop screen to keep you from hunching forward while you work.
Get up and move around
Good posture can help relieve the pressure on your neck, but it’s never a good idea to sit in front of the screen for hours on end. Schedule regular breaks into your screen time to give your neck some relief. Moving around gives your neck the chance to stretch and rest, so be sure to break up the times you’re stuck in front of the screen by standing up and moving your neck around.
Make time for regular exercise
A regular exercise routine will keep your neck strong and healthy so that the effects of tech neck will not be so extreme. Try incorporating more aerobic and low-impact exercises into your workout, as they can help reduce neck tension that builds up during the day. Regular exercise can combat the muscular strain that contributes to the pain and discomfort of tech neck.
Treating tech neck at FYZICAL Therapy and Balance Center at Lincoln Park
Tech neck is a frustrating condition that can cause considerable pain and stiffness for its sufferers. At FYZICAL-Lincoln Park, we believe that no one should have to put up with debilitating neck pain if it can be avoided. Our experienced and compassionate physical therapists are ready to start working with you right away. No doctor’s prescription or referral is necessary to get started with us—everyone is welcome for an evaluation!
Don’t put up with neck aches, pains, and stiffness any longer. If you’ve been suffering from tech neck pain, get in touch with us today to see how physical therapy can help you start getting some relief!