Tech neck is a term used for the specific neck and upper back pain that's caused from hunching over a phone or computer screen all day. There are a lot of possible causes for neck, shoulder, and upper back pain, so being able to narrow the cause down to technology use can aid your chiropractor in developing the right treatment plan. The following are the main signs that you may have a case of tech neck.
1. Bobblehead Syndrome
The act of constantly bending over a screen causes bad posture and a hunching of the upper back muscles. Holding this position too often over time will eventually cause the upper back and neck muscles to weaken, so your head feels heavy and painful to hold in the upright position. You may begin to tip the head forward, or the back of the skull may want to fall backward like a bobblehead so the chin juts out. Not only is this posture painful, but it's also unattractive.
2. Dull Headaches
Tech neck leads to a lot of tension held in the neck and upper back muscles. This tension pulls on the base of the skull, resulting in dull headaches in the back of the head down into the base of the skull. The pain can seem to radiate out from the back of the head, causing a throbbing sensation through the upper back and into the shoulders, as well.
3. Shoulder Stiffness
The upper back and shoulders will often feel stiff when one suffers from tech neck. This is because these muscles are holding a lot of tension from the constant hunching over. The spine is being forced to curve unnaturally, which draws the shoulders inward and adds to the discomfort.
4. Muscle Numbness
Often the act of constantly hunching over a screen will lead to pinched nerves and blood vessels in the neck and upper back, which will translate as numbness or tingling in the hands, arms, shoulders, or upper to mid-back. Fortunately, these can be reversed with adjustment and posture changes.
The good news is that tech neck is fully treatable. Your chiropractor will use a combination of neck adjustments and soft tissue massages to loosen the tense muscles and realign the spine in the neck. These in-office treatments are usually combined with stretches and postural changes to practice at home, which will help the tissues in the neck recover from the tech stress. With regular back pain treatment from a professional, your tech neck issues can become a thing of the past.