Got a Case of Tech Neck? Neck Strain Symptoms, Causes, and Natural Relief

tech neck

Ever watch a pre-digital era movie and ask yourself: How were these people possibly doing any productive business with just pen and paper. No laptops? Not even a desktop…?

The good news is that time has proven that even those pre-tech eras kept our world going. But the bad news is that, although tech has made our world so much more productive, the excessive usage of screens has resulted in people sitting for much longer, statically, staring at their screens. And this reality takes its toll, physically, with the first “victim” being the neck. This “neck abuse” has a trendy name: Tech neck.

Tech neck may be more prevalent right now, as most of us are stuck working from home at what may not be ideal workstations.

Continue reading to learn a bit more about what “tech neck” is, how it is caused, and how you can go about fixing it.

What Is Tech Neck and How Is It Caused?

busy woman getting tech neck

Tech neck is a fancy term for pain and stiffness in the neck and shoulders that results from excessive digital device use. This happens when we spend too much time with our heavy heads extended too far forward over our bodies while staring almost endlessly at a computer screen, slumped over a smartphone or tablet, or hanging our heads over our backs as we look up at our screens; our bodies try to correct themselves from this unnatural positioning.

cervical xray- tech neck
Cervical Xray: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Our cervical spine, the 7 vertebrae in our neck, curves in ways that it was not “designed” to do, which puts excessive pressure on the regions affected — we’re talking the difference between 10-12 pounds to 60 pounds of added weight. The prolonged effect of this pressure can cause pain in the muscles, ligaments, vertebrae, and discs in the neck and upper thoracic regions.

This is pain you can easily avoid by knowing how to correct your habits, which we’ll cover further down. But first, let’s dive into the symptoms.

Tech Neck Symptoms and Diagnosis

Neck and shoulder pain are most common, but upper back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and migraines or headaches may also indicate the tech neck condition.

But if we look at the most common indications of tech neck, those that doctors use to diagnose this condition, we’ll find:

  • Stiff or painful neck. A major symptom caused by having your neck in a downward position for lengthy times looking at your laptop or cell phone. This posture puts additional load on the spine.
  • Shoulder pain. Hunching over your keyboard or hunching your shoulders when texting? That’s a major cause of shoulder pain.
  • Headaches. Tilting your head down to read the display of your cellphone or too far forward while reading your computer monitor? That’s a great way to get yourself recurring, sometimes debilitating, headaches.
  • Tingling or numb thumbs. Our thumbs do the heavy lifting when it comes to texting. If you are hunching over your phone while texting, you are pinching the nerves leading down the arms to the hands and fingers, which can cause numbness.
  • Dry eyes and blurry vision. Staring at screens or displays for a prolonged period of time can lead to blurry vision. Additionally, you probably never thought about it, but when you are focused on tasks on your computer, you blink much less. And that causes dry eyes, which can result in blurriness as well. As a result of blurry vision, people tend to hunch forward even further, adding salt to injury.

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So How Can We Mitigate the Tech Neck Risk?

Posture, posture, posture.

On a higher level, our screens and displays make us adopt postures that are unhealthy, unnatural, and that creates an excessive weight burden on our necks. Every additional angle forward we tilt it and bend our neck, the greater the head’s weight becomes.

In other words, the more sharply we look down, the more our heads move forward, shifting the natural center of gravity. Such a posture negatively affects the spine and even our hips.

neck pain - woman twisting her neck

Some tips to avoid the dreaded tech neck include:

  • Always be aware of how you hold your phone and hold it in a way that minimizes the amount of tilting you do with your head. Also, gentle neck stretches once in a while can help.
  • Give your shoulders a break and stretch them occasionally. Add to that some forward and backward shoulders rolls.
  • Lift your phone to eye level and adjust your computer’s monitor to eye level as well.
  • Shake your hands and wiggle your fingers from time to time. Add to that some gentle wrist rolls.
  • Take a 5-10 minute eye-break once in a while. Look around to shift some focus. Eye lubrication is also useful. Oh, and an eye-break doesn’t mean fiddling with your cell phone while waiting to go back your main monitor.

An ergonomic workstation is also key to preventing any tech neck implications. Make sure your at-home set up is comfortable, keeping your computer screen level with your eyes and utilize a comfortable chair that helps prevent neck and shoulder pain.

You could also consider creating a standing workstation, which relieves pressure on the body and can help with many tech neck symptoms. At home, you could create this using a dresser, a pile of books, or even your kitchen counter. This provides the additional benefit of burning more calories throughout the day, because you burn more calories standing than you do sitting!

If you’d like to learn more about the ways your body is affected by excessive use of digital devices, read Office Syndrome is Real and It Should Be Taken Seriously.

Soothe Your Pain With a Topical Cream or Ointment

If your at-home work set up is causing you tech neck, you can always try topical pain relief products like CBDMEDIC’s Back & Neck Pain Relief Ointment. Our products contain naturally-derived camphor and menthol, which penetrate the skin and temporarily relieve those pesky aches and pains due to tech neck.

Try using our Self-Care Program, which provides 15% off all subscriptions and offers FREE dropshipping right to your front door. While we may be stuck working from home at the moment, don’t let a sore neck keep you from getting the job done.


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