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What is ‘tech neck’? How do you get rid of it?

Technology rules a lot of people’s lives, sometimes to unhealthy extents, and anyone who spends a lot of time on their devices may be in danger of developing a condition called “tech neck.”

“Tech neck is a new epidemic caused by the chronic use of all of the electronic devices that we have gotten accustomed to using as part of our everyday lives, such as our cell phones, tablets and computers,” Dr. Mark Blank, the clinic director at Florida-based USA Sports Medicine, explained to In The Know by Yahoo.

Tech neck is caused by hours spent stressing back and neck muscles to look at phones and computer screens. Holding those muscles still for too long can lead to headaches, neck spasms and soreness. It’s estimated that seven out of 10 people experience neck pain in their lives.

According to Dr. Blank, tech neck can lead to complications such as pain and “chronic tightness” in the front and back of the neck, chest and even shoulders from constantly looking down at devices. Despite its prevalence, tech neck does seem to be fixable, and there are ways to prevent it from developing in the first place.

How to tell if you have tech neck

The Premier Spine Institute in Texas explains in a blog that tech neck can originate anytime someone spends prolonged periods of time with the neck in an unnatural forward position. Tech neck can happen from looking at a phone, computer, tablet or even an old-fashioned paper book.

“This causes pain in our neck and shoulders in the short term,” Dr. Blank said.

Along with short-term pain, Dr. Blank said tech neck can also lead to “further degenerating” of the spine, which can “pinch nerves and cause radiating pain, numbness and tingling all the way down to your hands in the long term.”

The four signs you might have tech neck, according to the Premier Spine Institute, are:

  • A dull ache in the back of your neck that’s relieved by lying down or taking a break from screens

  • Headaches, especially at the base of the skull

  • Neck and shoulder stiffness

  • Numbness and tingling in the arms and hands

How to fix tech neck

While tech neck may cause serious symptoms, Dr. Blank added that it’s also “something that is absolutely preventable and treatable if recognized and addressed.”

He recommended that anyone who regularly engages in deskwork ensure they are using proper ergonomics and equipment to stop strain on and degeneration of the spine.

“But most importantly, correcting the muscle imbalance in your neck and shoulders with proper strengthening and stretching can help reverse these postural deficits and restore your body to its proper form, and eliminate not just the pain, but the cause of the pain,” Dr. Blank noted.

Influencer Katie Blake (@katie.blake.fit) documented her journey fixing what she called “tech neck.” In a TikTok, she says she reversed a visible neck bump through a combination of weight loss and neck-focused exercises.

In the comment section, Blake described what her neck bump felt like and explained that it was not solely weight-related.

“Some people can have fat deposits but mine was hard you could feel the bone,” she said.

Blake also shared the exact exercise routine she did that she said helped fix her neck. The exercises included things like stretching her neck, squeezing her shoulder muscles and stretching her arms above and in front of her head.

Correcting her posture, Blake added, took about eight months of doing the exercises every day.

How to prevent tech neck

For established cases of tech neck, a doctor can help create a treatment plan that may include medications for pain relief and physical therapy to release tension and correct posture.

Additionally, there may be steps someone can take to help prevent tech neck from developing in the first place.

For instance, Dr. John S. Michels, a doctor at Interventional Spine & Pain in Dallas, recommends:

  • Viewing all screens, phones included, at eye level only

  • Regular stretching to release neck and shoulder tension

  • Practicing overall good posture (and learning what good posture entails, if necessary)

Along with using the right equipment and prevention methods, Dr. Blank also stressed the importance of turning to a professional if you are experiencing pain or symptoms.

“It is encouraged to seek professional help from your local physical therapist, chiropractor or related health care professionals that you trust to ensure that you are doing the correct exercises for the issue that you are having, as many exercisesm although good exercises, might be the wrong ones for your issue and potentially make your symptoms worse,” he said.

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The post What is ‘tech neck’? How do you get rid of it? appeared first on In The Know.

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