Tech Neck and Neck Pain
Alice Fallon (MISCP) here, I treat patients in the PhysioCare Butterfield and Carrickmines clinics. With the prevalent use of technology such as smartphones and computers/laptops etc. in our everyday lives nowadays; it is quite often that we treat patients for what you could call ‘tech neck’. In this blog post here, I layout a typical day of someone who may seek high quality physiotherapy treatment for neck pain and poor posture as a result of tech neck. If this sounds like you or someone you know, you can contact us on 015310007 or click/tap here to book an appointment online to get and feel better.
While spoonfeeding ourselves porridge on auto-pilot, we hunch over a mobile phone with eyes fixated on our Twitter newsfeeds digesting today’s headlines. We amble to the Luas or Dart and switch over to Facebook – engagements, babies, holidays – same, but different. A quick glance around shows everyone else is doing the same. We commute – head down, neck bent, eyes glued . . .
Slumping into our awkward office chair and peering at the desktop, we start our working day including e-mails answered, numbers crunched, reports completed and on and on until lunch break. Cue: relocation to the canteen, further spoonfeeding and the re-emergence of the mobile phone and apps such as Instagram, Snapchat, Tinder. Abruptly our half hour is up and we re-assume our desk position. Back to quarterly projections, consumer correspondence, drafted propositions – slumped forward until it becomes home time. We work with shoulders rounded, back humped, eyes glued . . .
Time for the feel good factor and we hit the gym convincing ourselves we’re healthy, active young adults. We attempt cardio exercise with compromised breathing patterns correlating to our daily sitting habits. Technique and form in weights training is jeopardised due to our turtle-like postural tendencies contributing to reduced shoulder, neck and spinal movement. And (more often than not), we carry on home neglecting any thought to crucial mobility or flexibility activities.
Dinner cooked and in need of some deserved rest and relaxation before the day is out so we take to the couch. The laptop surfaces and we squint at Netflix until drawn to our bed. With one final glance at our phone and the multitude of incoming WhatsApp messages, we doze off, all the while preparing ourselves for a repeat of the same – day in, day out. We unwind with our body curled, neck strained, eyes glued . . .
“Tech Neck” is a relatively recent phenomenon resulting from the incessant use of devices such as mobile phones, smart watches and computers etc.. It is characterised by head positioning with ears sitting forward in front of shoulders and is associated with neck and upper back pain, protracting shoulders and reduced range of motion at a myriad of joints. The muscles, joints and other soft tissues of the neck are intended to support the weight of our head (approximately 5kg). By habitually jutting our head forward, strain on the neck increases as a result of altered lever length and forces of gravity. This detrimental and exacerbating positional strain over an extended period of time eventually causes muscles and tissues to fail with consequential pain and dysfunction.