Tech Neck-Impacts of Electronics on Your Spine

By Karen Holmes, Newburyport.Com Correspondent
Karen Holmes, DPT has been a physical therapist for over 30 years. She received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Physical Therapy from Northeastern University and later obtained a Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree from Simmons College. She worked many years specializing in the treatment of orthopedic/sports related injuries and now owns a successful private practice in Salisbury, MA.
Holmes Physical Therapy
tech neck, Newburyport MA

If you spend time daily on a smart phone, laptop or other electronic device, you could be at risk of a growing medical condition known as tech neck. While this term may not sound that serious, over time, poor posture, attributed to smart devices, can lead to spine degeneration, pinched nerves and muscle strain.

How many times a day do you pull out your phone for a quick glance or to check email? How many hours do you spend working on your laptop? Do you spend a few hours a week catching up on the news or reading a good book on your tablet? Often we don’t even realize we are using our smart devices as frequently as we are, so these numbers may alarm you. The average person spends 14 to 28 hours a week, a staggering 700 to 1400 hours per year on their electronic devices, never mind the hours spent at work. Many folks may spend an additional 35 to 45 hours per week on electronic devices, depending upon their profession. And as the use of these contemporary conveniences have become more common, so have the number of people dealing with headaches, achy necks and shoulders and other associated pains related to tech neck. 

The good news is we don’t need to give up our handy little devices in order to protect our bodies from tech neck. What we have learned is that many electronic users look at their screen below eye level, causing their heads to flex forward. With each degree your head tilts, the strain on your spine increases. Simply being mindful of your head and neck posture when interacting with your devices will remedy much of your problem.

 If your symptoms persist or you feel like you spend quite a bit of time on smart devices, it’s a great idea to meet with a physical therapist trained to address tech neck. Located right in Salisbury, we at Holmes Physical Therapy, will not only address your current aches and pains with proper exercises focused on preserving the spine, but also help teach you the correct ways to use your devices to eliminate problems in the future. Many times, we find that changing our clients habits and environments, from proper work stations to simple posture tweaks, can be hugely beneficial.

Smart devices are incredibly useful and have made our day to day lives so much more convenient, but it is so important that we interact with them properly. So the next time you reach for your smart phone or pull up a chair to your laptop, do a quick check  of your head and neck posture.