The answer to this question is actually alarmingly easy, “YES, you could be at risk for a new dilemma being referred to as “Tech Neck” if you text or play games often on your cell phone, pad, or tablet.” Tech neck is the term being given to an increase of people of nearly every age whom are experiencing moderate to severe neck pain, shoulder pain, and back pain due to spending hours every day on mobile devices. Every day the world’s population spends most of their waking hours texting, playing games and working on their digital/mobile accessories.
It’s a simple matter or ergonomics. We’ve been telling office workers for decades that the best position for their computer screens according to OSHA is at least 20” in front of you, with the top line of the screen at, or slightly below eye level. The idea was to avoid those viewing their computer screen from tilting their heads or leaning into their work space causing strains in posture and even eyesight. However, this was created years before the thought of spending so much time on a small device that would require you to look down or constantly hunch over, looking downward to view a smaller, portable device.
The Pains of Text Neck
In many it’s a matter of literally creating a hunchback that puts pressure and pulls on the muscles of the neck, shoulders, collarbone area, and even the spine. After hours of continuously looking down at your digital devices you could end up with headaches, knots in your muscles, swollen tendons, strained muscles, backaches, arm pain, and more. The continuous looking down can cause severe stress in the neck area, which can radiate elsewhere due to poor posture.
Because nearly 60% of American Adults own smartphones and even more, 90%, own cell phones there is cause for alarm that this digital device addiction will only increase. More and more people are going to be using their Smartphones, pads, laptops, mini-pads, and other mobile devices as technology becomes even more “mobile.” It’s not just smartphones to blame as more and more jobs are utilizing mobile devices to enter information as they take their jobs on the go. Even inside doctors’ offices, physical therapy clinics, and other offices you will see workers traveling with handheld devices; looking downward to enter important information.
Many say that they text as opposed to calling in order to keep contact brief and to the point. Texting also allows for quicker answers and people are more likely to text in certain surroundings as opposed to being in a position where talking on the phone is less acceptable. This means that more people are continuously looking downward more often and for longer periods of time. The fact is we will be seeing more and more people suffering from tech neck as our society relies upon these mobile devices even more often; not only for personal use but for work related use. While many see it as advancement in technology; even those of us who should know better are falling prey to a position that can cause painful tech neck and a posture that can cause extensive pains.
While the term tech neck may be new, the symptoms that come with it are not only common to other injuries but a common complaint among many people for a variety of reasons. However, when treated properly, patients can actually be completely rid of the pain. The problem is not in how to work with neck pain, back pain, shoulder pain, and other related symptoms but how to keep those who are going to utilize their digital devices from having this problem over and over. As long as people are going to continue to move with technology at their fingertips we’re going to be suffering from tech neck and the painful symptoms it creates. It may be time to check into keeping those neck muscles strengthened and learning techniques that can help you live through technology while being pain free.
Dedicated To Your Health & Well-being (and safety),
 Pew Research Center Report – Mobile Technology Fact Sheet – January 2014