While it may not be realistic to give up your phone and other devices, if your gadgets are causing you neck strain or sprains, it’s important to consult with ProOrtho’s neck and spine doctors. Our Seattle spine surgeons can provide you with the best ergonomic and posture practices, or evaluate your condition to help with pain management. Contact ProOrtho today!
Neck pain has become increasingly common thanks to our phones, computers, TVs, and the plethora of other screens we rely on in our daily lives. When we crane over our devices, the head tilts downward and moves in front of our shoulders, adding up to 10 pounds of additional pressure on the spine to support the head. This phenomenon is called Tech Neck, and over time it can lead to substantial problems.
The reality today is that people spend nearly their entire day interacting with screens. According to the leading market-research group Nielsen, in 2018 Americans spent over 11 hours a day interacting with media. This past year eMarketer also found that the average time spent on mobile devices by US adults is up to 3 hours and 35 minutes a day, and is expected to pass TV as the most popular medium in 2019.
That’s an unhealthy amount of time to spend with your neck in a bent position and can lead to serious wear and tear. When the neck muscles bend they put pressure on the bones, straining the spine to accommodate. Eventually, the cervical spine (neck) and thoracic spine (mid back) are altered. This can result in neck pain, stiffness, herniated disks, shoulder injury, and may even require spine surgery.
Posture and self-care techniques can be used to combat the effects of tech neck. When standing with your back against a wall, your buttocks, back, head, and shoulders should all be touching the wall without any effort or discomfort. If this requires any strain, then it’s important to work to improve your posture by limiting time spent in tech neck positions. That means standing or sitting up straight with your shoulders pulled in and your ears aligned with them. Practice an ergonomic sitting position with your head upright, shoulders and hips aligned, knees level with hips, and your wrists and hands at elbow level.
The importance of taking regular breaks is often overlooked, however mini-breaks can also do wonders for neck health and pain relief. Stretch by lifting your arms or allowing your head to rest for 30 seconds every 15 minutes, and take breaks every hour to stand and walk around with your head and shoulders upright. Exercise, massage, and physical therapy can also help to beat tech neck and manage spine health – especially physical therapy and yoga.
Tech neck may be difficult to avoid in today’s world, but it’s still possible to prevent and treat with proper spine care. To learn how you can manage neck and spine pain, neck care after surgery, and more, contact the top orthopedic surgeons in Seattle today. At ProOrtho, we specialize in treating spine injuries and conditions.