Is Your Smartphone Hurting Your Neck?
How Does Technology Impact The Body?
Before wireless technology became so universal, doctors reported seeing an increase in patients complaining of inflammation and tightness in the neck and back muscles. Those symptoms were often linked to poor posture from sitting at a desk for long periods of time, with one hand/arm operating a computer mouse. Now, wireless devices free people from their desks and make technology available everywhere. You no longer get an automatic break when leaving your desk behind for the day. You pick up your phone constantly. Your arm is not just resting on your desk operating a mouse, you are typing with your thumb, arm bent at an awkward angle for hours at a time, and your neck is struggling to hold your head at just the right angle to read your screen.
Before you write this off as being a “teenager issue” you should be aware that a recent Nielsen’s Total Audience Report shows that most adults spend 10 or more hours a day consuming electronic media. Let’s think about your neck and 10 hours of electronics. The average human head weighs between 10 and 12 pounds, but when the neck is bent holding the head at an angle, the pull on the neck can be equivalent to 60 pounds of pressure. That is why doctors are now seeing more and more patients with symptoms of “tech neck.” And don’t forget about the wrist and thumb. Carpal tunnel syndrome, which causes tingling and numbness in the hand, can be caused by the repetitive motion of typing with your thumb or holding your phone or tablet at an angle for long periods of time.
How To Combat Tech Injuries
It seems like a simple answer—put down your phone. But, it never is that simple. Think about the last time you were out with friends. How long did you last before sneaking a peek at your phone? Were others sitting around the table checking social media or looking for an anticipated email from work? Most people seem to reach for their devices without much thought—it has become routine. If you want to break the habit, improve your interpersonal relationships, and take the stress off your body, try these simple steps:
- Try setting a timer and limit the number of consecutive minutes you are scrolling down your screen.
- Give your body a break and don’t take your phone into meal settings or your bedroom.
- Try holding your phone with your other hand for general reading and browsing.
- Designate family time to be device-free times for all family members.
If You Already Have Pain
The doctors of NewSouth NeuroSpine are here to help diagnose and treat your pain, including pain caused by overuse of technology. Our doctors represent four specialties, but one purpose—to see you through to complete healing. Our goal as a medical practice is to conservatively treat pain, restore function, and get you back to your life. We understand pain, what causes it, and how to treat it. If you are suffering from neck or back pain, tingling and/or numbness in your hand, elbow, or arm, use this form to request an appointment.