What is Tech Neck?
If you own a smartphone, tablet or computer screen (chances are you do!) it’s likely that you’ve experienced tech neck! Tech owners spend hours each day hunched over their screens which leads to pain and stiffness in the neck and shoulder area.
Tech neck is an overuse syndrome or repetitive stress injury to the neck caused by holding your head in a forward and downwards position for extended periods of times. Holding your head in this position creates excessive tension in the deep muscles of the neck and across the shoulders causing both acute and chronic neck pain and headaches.
What Causes Tech Neck?
In an upright, well aligned posture, the average weight of an adult human head exerts approximately 4.5 to 5.5kg of force through the muscles of the neck. But when your head is moved forward by only 2 to 3 cm from this neutral position, the weight of your head dramatically increases generating up to 6 times as much force on the neck muscles!! That is almost 30kg – the same weight as an average 8 year old or approximately 4 bowling balls!
If left untreated, ‘tech neck’ can lead to inflammation of neck ligaments, nerve irritation, muscle imbalances and increased curvature in the spine.
Signs and Symptoms
- Forward head posture/ chin poking out
- Increased shoulder rounding
- Instant or delayed onset neck and/or upper back pain, specifically when using a handheld device or computer
- General shoulder pain and tightness
- Intermittent or constant headache made worse when looking down or using a screen device
How Physiotherapy Can Help
Tech neck is conservatively managed by your Qualified Physiotherapist. The aim of treatment is to reduced tension within the neck muscles, reduce the pain within your neck and/or upper back and address the postures that aggravate your symptoms. This will involve postural analysis and awareness as well as strengthening exercises to prevent a recurrence.