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[Manhattan Pain Management] Chronic Neck Pain: Ways To Ease And Prevent Tech Neck

Updated: Apr 4

daily neck pain problem

Technology is everywhere today, and we spend a lot of time looking at screens – more than 10 hours a day for many people. But this can cause problems, especially with our necks. Many of us suffer from neck pain because we spend so much time on phones, computers, and other devices.


Surprisingly, studies show that more than half of young adults aged 18-29 have had neck pain in the past year. That's why many people come to see our Manhattan pain management specialists for help with their pain.


This blog post gives you tips to stop and ease neck pain caused by using technology. With a few simple changes, you can avoid getting a sore neck, which is becoming more and more common.


What is Tech Neck?

Tech neck, also known as text neck or smartphone neck, is a term used to describe the pain and damage caused by frequently looking down at electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops for prolonged periods. The term has become increasingly prevalent with the widespread use of handheld devices and computers in daily life.


pain and stiffness in the neck

When using these devices, people tend to bend their necks forward, which can put excessive strain on the muscles, ligaments, and vertebrae of the cervical spine (the neck region).


Symptoms of tech neck:

  • Pain and stiffness in the neck and shoulders

  • Headaches

  • Numbness or tingling in the arms and hands

  • Difficulty turning your head

  • Reduced range of motion in the neck


Tech neck is a result of poor posture while using electronic devices, and it can affect people of all ages. However, it is particularly common among younger individuals who spend a significant amount of time using smartphones and computers. To prevent or reduce the risk of developing tech neck, you can take several proactive measures.


Maintain Proper Posture

Keeping your spine aligned is essential for preventing tech neck. Whether sitting or standing, strive to maintain a neutral spine position with your head held upright and shoulders relaxed. Avoid hunching over or slouching, as this can increase strain on the neck and upper back muscles.


When using electronic devices, such as smartphones or tablets, hold them at eye level to minimize the need to bend your neck forward. When sitting at a desk or workstation, ensure that your chair provides adequate lumbar support, and adjust the height of your chair and desk so that your computer monitor is at eye level. Use a supportive chair with armrests to encourage proper posture and reduce strain on the neck and shoulders.


A physical therapist helps correct bad posture by teaching exercises that strengthen and stretch the muscles needed for good posture. They also provide education on proper body mechanics and ergonomics to prevent further strain. Also, they may use manual techniques such as massage or manipulation to address tight or misaligned muscles and joints. Through personalized treatment plans, physical therapists work to improve alignment, balance, and muscle control to support better posture and reduce pain or discomfort associated with poor posture.


Additionally, consider using posture-correcting devices or reminders, such as posture braces or smartphone apps, to help maintain good posture throughout the day. By consciously practicing proper posture, you can reduce the risk of developing tech neck and promote overall spinal health.


Keep Devices at Eye Level

chronic neck pain

Ensuring that your electronic devices, such as computers, laptops, and monitors, are positioned at an appropriate height is crucial for preventing tech neck. When the screen is at eye level, it promotes a more natural posture, reducing strain on the neck and upper back muscles.


By adjusting the screen height of your electronic devices to eye level, you can maintain a more ergonomic posture and reduce the risk of developing tech neck. Experiment with different setups to find the most comfortable and effective arrangement for your workspace or electronic device usage.


Take Screen Breaks

Staring at screens for prolonged periods can cause digital eye strain, leading to dry eyes, blurry vision, headaches, and neck pain. To prevent this, follow the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break to look at something 20 feet away. This practice helps alleviate eye strain, as focusing on nearby screens for extended periods can lead to discomfort and fatigue.


Additionally, during these breaks, take the opportunity to stretch your neck and shoulder muscles gently. Perform simple neck stretches and movements to counteract the effects of prolonged sitting and device use.


These brief breaks allow your neck muscles to relax, improve circulation, and reduce tension, ultimately preventing tech neck and promoting overall neck health. Incorporating this routine into your daily device usage can significantly benefit your posture and well-being.

 

Set a timer or download an app to remind you to take regular screen breaks throughout the day. You can also use calendar reminders or leverage productivity tools to track your screen time and prompt you when you've been staring too long. Taking frequent quick breaks goes a long way toward preventing eye strain and its associated headaches and neck pain.


Stretch Your Neck 

Neck stretches can relieve tension and pain caused by prolonged technology use. Try incorporating exercises and stretches, which can help improve neck strength, flexibility, and posture, reducing the risk of developing tech neck throughout your day. Be sure to move slowly and carefully. Stop immediately and consult a healthcare professional if you experience discomfort or pain while performing these exercises.


manage neck pain with healthy lifestyle

Limit Screen Time

With the devices we constantly have in hand, it can be difficult to limit screen time. However, setting boundaries around technology use is crucial for reducing neck strain. Setting these boundaries prevents your neck from being stuck in a "tech neck" position for too long. By designating tech-free times, you give your neck muscles a break.


Consider Ergonomics

Using ergonomic accessories can help reduce neck strain from technology use. Wrist rests for keyboards and ergonomic mice allow your wrists and hands to be in a more natural position. This takes the pressure off your neck since you won't need to bend your wrists at an awkward angle to use your devices. Look for wrist rests with gentle slopes and padded cushioning.


For smartphones and tablets, consider adding a phone grip or stand. Phone grips make holding your device easier by giving you something secure to wrap your fingers around. They keep your neck from craning forward to look down at your screen. Stands are useful for keeping your tablet or phone propped up at eye level so you don't have to bend your neck down. This helps maintain proper posture. 


Investing in ergonomic accessories tailored to your specific needs can go a long way in preventing neck strain from technology use. By incorporating these accessories into your workspace, you can create a more ergonomic environment that supports proper posture and reduces the risk of developing tech neck associated with prolonged use of electronic devices.


Seek Professional Help

If neck pain becomes severe or chronic, it's important to talk to a healthcare professional. See a pain specialist if neck pain:

  • Is severe 

  • Radiates down one or both arms

  • Causes numbness, tingling, or weakness in your arms/hands  

  • Is accompanied by dizziness or headache

  • Doesn't improve with home treatment


When considering seeking professional help for tech neck, there are several healthcare professionals who can offer guidance, personalized treatment, and lifestyle recommendations:


Manhattan pain management physician

Physical Therapist

A physical therapist specializes in assessing and treating musculoskeletal conditions, including neck pain from tech neck. They can provide exercises, stretches, and ergonomic advice to improve posture, strengthen neck muscles, and alleviate pain.


Chiropractor

Chiropractors focus on diagnosing and treating musculoskeletal disorders, particularly those related to the spine. They can perform adjustments and manipulations to improve spinal alignment, relieve tension, and reduce neck pain associated with tech neck.


Licensed Massage Therapist

Massage therapy can help relieve muscle tension and improve circulation in the neck and shoulder area. A licensed massage therapist can perform targeted massages to alleviate tech neck symptoms and promote relaxation.


Acupuncturist

Acupuncture involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body to promote healing and pain relief. Some people find acupuncture helpful for managing neck pain associated with tech neck.


Our Manhattan Pain Management Specialists Can Help

Consult with our top-rated Manhattan pain management specialists to receive an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plan tailored to your specific needs. They can also provide guidance on lifestyle modifications and preventive strategies to reduce the risk of tech neck in the future. So, don't ignore chronic neck pain. Seeking professional treatment can bring relief, improve range of motion, and prevent future discomfort.

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