What is Tech Neck?

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What is Tech Neck? 

Tech neck, also known as cervical kyphosis, is neck pain caused by repetitive tension on structures surrounding the cervical spine. The name tech neck derives from its relation with technology, as the root of the problem is often caused by bending the head to look at phones and screens. In fact, the average human head weighs 12 pounds, but for every inch it’s tilted forward, it exerts 10 more pounds of weight. This means the head can weigh up to 60 pounds, but the neck can’t withstand this for very long. When you’re working on a computer or looking down at your phone, the muscles in the back of the neck have to contract to hold your head up. Thus, these muscles can get tired from looking down at our smartphones, working on computers, or looking down at our tablets all day. 

What are common symptoms?

  • Headaches that worsen when looking at the screen
  • Pain/tightness in the neck, upper back, shoulders
  • Head-forward posture (where the ears are not aligned with the shoulders)

While tech neck can start off as a mild discomfort, symptoms become more chronic if left untreated. Treating tech neck in its early stages is most ideal to relieve pain and prevent further damage.

How do I prevent/treat tech neck?

  • Hold your phone or tablet at eye level. Avoid hunching over!
  • Position and elevate your computer at eye level with a laptop stand, books, etc.
  • Take at least 30 second breaks every hour when looking at a device
    • If you tend to forget, set timers on your phone or computer every hour to remind yourself.
  • Work at a table and not on the bed or couch!
  • Use earbuds/speakers rather than holding the phone with your neck and shoulder when speaking on the phone
  • Stretch the neck to loosen muscles and increase flexibility
  • Correct poor posture that stresses and strains your neck

With more people working from home and students learning online, tech neck is more common than ever. In fact, tech neck and neck pain is predicted to affect 70-75% of the population at least once in their lifetime. However, using the mentioned tips can help lower your risk of tech neck. As always, remember prevention is less costly than treatment!