Does this sound like you?
You use a smartphone or tablet a lot. Every day. Sometimes for a few hours or more each time you use them. Maybe you’re texting friends or business associates. Maybe you’re browsing the internet looking for great deals. Maybe you’re exploring new apps. Or maybe you’re using an app to read a book or document. A few hours have passed and you notice a bit of pain behind your eyes. You look away from your device and realize that you have a small headache. Then you raise your head. That’s when you feel the soreness and stiffness. You set aside your phone or tablet and begin to massage your neck as you look up and stretch a bit. When you feel relief, you pick up your phone or tablet and get back to doing what you were doing.
If this is you, then be very careful. The small soreness and headaches will become much more painful and other symptoms will appear.
The headache will become unbearable. It will begin at the back of your head and settle behind your eyes and will distract you to the point of not being able to concentrate. You can take aspirin or a pain reliever, but it will be a temporary fix.
The pain the neck will be more than just a bit of soreness that a hand massage or stretch can relieve. It will become a hot pain that doesn’t go away with a simple massage or even through various stretching techniques. It will actually become more painful as you attempt to stretch it away.
Your upper back, between your shoulders, will feel very sore and that soreness won’t be relieved with anything less than a deep massage or physical therapy.
The small of your back will be sore throughout the day, whether you’re on your mobile device or not. Trying to relieve the soreness with a lumbar support or pillow or heating pad may work, but it won’t make the pain go away.
Another symptom of “tech neck” you aren’t likely prepared for is the numbness and tingling of your fingers. The kind of numbness that really doesn’t go away even after you’ve stopped using your mobile device, massaged and stretched your fingers. This lead directly to loss of strength. Not enough that you can’t hold your mobile device, but enough to not be able to open jars or move stacks of books on your desk. It will be noticeable.
Prevention begins with awareness. Now that you know what is causing the pain you are experiencing, you can take action to stop it from becoming worse.
Licensed Massage Therapist, MA #75533
350 Treemonte Dr., Orange City, FL 32763