Imagine that you are working on your computer at your desk, or possibly your laptop at a coffee shop, or maybe your mobile devices like a tablet or smartphone.
You have been working for a few hours, getting into the groove and feeling good about your productivity. Then you feel a headache coming on. As you lift your head you realize you also have some neck pain. And, when you stop using your computer or mobile device, you feel a tingling in your fingers. There is no reason to panic as you have just experienced a condition that has become known as “tech neck”.
What Is “Tech Neck”?
As more people use electronic devices for longer periods of time, “tech neck” has become more widespread. It is the neck pain and numbness and tingling in the fingers that occur after using a smartphone or computer for an extended period of time. At one time it was a condition experienced by solely by computer programmers and coders.
This is what is happening: The head, when properly aligned with the neck and looking forward, weighs about 10 pounds. The muscles, bones, and ligaments of the neck are easily holding the head and there is no strain on any part of the neck. As the head is lowered, such as when looking at the smartphone or tablet, the neck is bending forward and the weight it is holding increases. When looking straight down at your phone or tablet, and your chin is close to your chest, your neck is now holding about 60 pounds of weight. This means that the muscles designed to support 10 pounds are now straining to support 60 pounds.
Do You Have “Tech Neck”?
Most people experience symptoms like soreness or stiffness of the neck and shoulders at the end of the day and don’t view it as a problem, mainly because the soreness or stiffness doesn’t happen every day.
The problem is that these symptoms can, and do, get worse over time. If you experience a sore neck, headache, or get numbness and tingling of the fingers every day, you should not ignore these symptoms of “tech neck”. The worst case scenario is that these symptoms will progress to you losing strength in your fingers and hands.
When you begin to feel the symptoms, self-massage can and will help decrease the pain and soreness in your neck. More importantly, correct your posture while you are using your mobile devices or laptop. And, limit the time you spend looking down at your devices. If the symptoms are every day and include daily headaches, it is time to seek treatment from a medical professional. Most likely, physical therapy will be prescribed.
Do not ignore “tech neck” because it will not go away on its own. Be proactive and take care of your neck now so you can minimize the amount of time it will take to cure yourself of the issue.
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