Heavy Device Use Causing “Tech Neck”

Following months of using technology to work, stay socially connected, and even visit the doctor virtually, many people are experiencing pain at the top of the spine – sometimes referred to as “tech neck”.  And not only can frequent bending to look at our phones or other devices cause muscle tightening, strain, and pain, constantly flexing the neck forward may create deepening wrinkles. 

Tech neck(or text neck) caused by repeatedly looking down at devices is literally a pain in the neck and it can also lead to tension headaches, migraines, jaw pain, and tightness in the mid-back.  According to a recent Neurosurgical Care Blog post, there are stretching and strengthening exercises that may help counteract tech neck pain.  These exercises should not cause more pain, which could be an indication of something more going on in the spine. 

The average human head weighs about 12 pounds and the National Spine Health Foundation warns that as the neck bends forward and down while texting, playing games, or emailing on your phone, the head’s weight increases to between 27 and 60 pounds, depending on the angle.  This increased weight puts a tremendous strain on the neck.  

Limiting time on devices or raising devices to eye level with a stand can also help prevent neck pain (and wrinkles).   Even reading a book, sewing, or putting together a puzzle can cause people to bend the neck frequently.  It’s important to straighten the neck out and gently stretch, giving yourself a break from a flexed neck position often. 

When it comes to skincare, many people forget to treat their neck as well as their face using a gentle cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen.   A retinol cream may help lessen wrinkles on the neck but should be used with care – people with sensitive skin may find it irritating.  Botox, fillers, or other treatments may also help minimize neck wrinkles. Discuss any questions or concerns with a dermatologist.

As always, talk with your doctor before starting any exercise program.  A referral to a physical therapist may also be appropriate for persistent neck pain.