Technical neck: In today’s fast-paced world, people spend most of their time in front of the screens of devices such as mobile phones, tablets and laptops. Not only does excessive screen time affect your eyes and mental health, it’s also linked to poor posture, which harms your neck and spine. Due to poor posture, the curvature of the spine can change. This disorder, called tech neck, can result in severe muscle strain and loss of mobility, according to the American Osteopathic Association.
To avoid tech neck, doctors suggest that people should use the selfie position to check their devices, keep their head up and hold their phone straight out.
When someone tilts their head forward 60 degrees, 60 pounds of pressure (about 272 newtons of force) is applied to the neck, said Dr. Stacey Pierce-Talsma of Touro University in California, according to the American Osteopathic Association.
Technical neck and other problems caused by excessive screen time and poor posture
Tech neck occurs when people use small screen technology by holding the device below eye level. Technical neck can lead to disc degeneration and nerve complications, Dr. Pierce-Talsma said. A stiff neck, tightness in the shoulders or general pain in the upper body may occur.
She explained that improper posture adds tension and compression to structures that were not supposed to bear that weight, and these stresses and strains accumulate over time and wear down bones, joints, and ligaments.
According to the American Osteopathic Association, posture affects the biomechanical efficiency of the body because it reflects the functioning of the musculoskeletal system as a whole.
dr. Pierce-Talsma said good posture puts the least amount of stress on muscles, bones and ligaments as you move, while poor posture leads to fatigue and pain.
According to an April 2021 study published in the journal BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, the duration of screen time is associated with the degree of spinal pain in preadolescence.
Physical inactivity is also associated with a higher likelihood of severe back pain compared to those who are moderately active.
Therefore, reducing screen time and increasing physical activity may help prevent back pain in preadolescence, according to the study.
Work-from-home practices have also contributed to increased screen time, poor posture and neck problems. When people sit for a long time in a bad position, the spine experiences excessive strain.
“Sitting for a long time can lead to disorders such as kyphosis and lordosis. Excessive exposure to screens can cause tech neck, a condition in which the head tilts forward, stressing the neck and upper spine and causing pain and stiffness. The lack of ergonomic office settings in remote work usually results in neck and back pain,” dr. Debashish Chanda, Orthopedics and Joint Replacement Specialist, CK Birla Hospital, Gurugram, told ABP Live.
Kyphosis is a condition in which there is an increased curve of the spine back and forth. There is excessive forward rounding of the upper back, according to the Mayo Clinic. It can look like someone is hunting.
Lordosis, an excessive inward curvature of the spine, affects the neck or lower back, and is also called swayback.
Dr Chanda said that chronic discomfort, muscle imbalances, herniated discs, reduced mobility and degenerative changes in the spine are some of the consequences of spinal strain due to poor posture. He proposed that even at home one must maintain good posture, constantly move the body and perform stretching exercises, and create an ergonomic work environment.
How to prevent and treat tech neck and other problems caused by bad posture and prolonged time in front of the screen
Lifestyle changes can help treat technology neck. People need to sit as much as they can, similar to a soldier’s position, and then relax a bit, because a good position should not be painful, according to Dr. Pierce-Talsma. Strength-building exercises are important to prevent the harmful effects of poor posture.
While medications can treat inflammation and reduce pain, it is important to correct your posture to address the root cause of the problem. Physical therapy can solve muscle problems.
According to Dr. Pierce-Talsma, osteopathic manipulative treatment can improve the symptoms of tech neck and address the underlying causes of the pain, the American Osteopathic Association reported on its website. Osteopathic manipulative treatment is a technique in which a person’s muscles and joints are moved and manipulated to correct structural imbalances, improve circulation, and relieve pain.
People who work from home must ensure that their workplace is designed in such a way that they can maintain a neutral posture, and that their desk, chair and computer screen are properly positioned with the help of ergonomic furniture or other adjustments.
“Take frequent, small breaks to stand, stretch and move around to reduce the effects of prolonged sitting. Include core strengthening exercises and neck exercises to strengthen supporting muscles and reduce strain. To enhance your setup, use accessories like a laptop stand. To support overall spine health, along with these steps, maintain a balanced diet, stay hydrated, and participate in regular exercise.” dr. Satnam Singh Chhabra, director of neurosurgery at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, told ABP Live.
Stress reduction exercises should be performed carefully to ensure that these movements do not worsen the pain caused by poor posture and neck pain.