Your mother always reminded you to stand up straight, long before the modern age of slouching at our workplace computers or looking down at all our devices at home. Now, that poor posture has a new and particularly appropriate name — tech neck.
At Interventional Pain Center in Legacy Office Park, Norman, Oklahoma, Dr. James Stephens treats the fallout from too many hours spent before a screen — neck pain, back pain, and poor posture. Because many people aren’t aware that what they’re doing is literally hurting them, we’ve put together this guide on how to beat tech neck.
Tech neck develops when you tilt your head and neck too far forward in relation to your body, such as when you look down at your computer screen or phone or slouch in your chair. It leads to pain in your neck, shoulders, and upper back.
The reason for this is simple. When your neck is vertical, it sustains about 12 pounds of weight from your head. When you lean forward, though, the neck and upper back muscles trying to keep your head upright get pulled and stretched. If you tilt your neck down 30 degrees from vertical, it feels as if your head weighs 40 pounds. Increasing the angle to 60 degrees results in an apparent head weight of approximately 60 pounds!
It’s no surprise that holding up 40-60 pounds for long periods puts a great deal of strain on the cervical (neck) spine. To counteract the additional weight, your neck, spine, and hips all shift out of their normal alignment to prevent you from tipping forward. The newly misaligned bones cause stretching and micro tears in the soft tissues supporting your neck and head, which leads to tightness, poor posture, and pain.
Here are some of the main health problems tech neck may cause.
Most people’s first symptom of tech neck is, well, neck pain, and it only gets worse as time goes on. Milder symptoms include neck stiffness or soreness after a long day in front of the computer at work. And maintaining bad posture when using your devices at home can also lead to tingling, weakness, or numbness down the line.
It’s not just your muscles that are affected by a tilted neck; leaning forward also strains your spine. Forcing your neck and back muscles to stay contracted for long periods puts more pressure on your spinal discs, causing them to wear out faster. Worn-out discs can easily crack or rupture (a condition known as a herniated disc), which can be extremely painful.
Cervical radiculopathy occurs from an irritated or inflamed nerve. For your cervical spine, the combined factors of leaning forward, hunching your shoulders, and tucking your head under your chin cause the spinal structures to compress nerves and nerve roots, sending shooting pain from your neck down your arm and into your fingers.
Is your posture less than perfect? Do you hunch over your office computer day after day, only to repeat the process with your tablet at home? You may have developed tech neck, and Interventional Pain Center is the place you want to be to find relief.
Call our office at 405-759-8407 to set up a consultation with Dr. Stephens, or use our online booking tool today.