It’s been said that there are no solutions in life, only trade-offs. Innovation is the engine that drives us forward, but modern fixes to old problems often create new challenges. Neck and shoulder pain and tension created by electronic devices are prime manifestations of this dilemma.
While devices like tablets and smartphones have made life simpler, the way we use these technologies has created serious health complications for many. Health problems often arise from overuse, poor posture, and device-centric lifestyles, combined with dramatically reduced physical activity.
Contemporary Neck Pain Statistics
Ergonomic Trends reports some surprising 2021 statistics that illustrate the pervasiveness of neck and shoulder tension and pain. Here are just a few:
- The average human head weighs about 12 pounds similar to a gallon of paint. With every 15 degrees of tilt, the amount of pressure placed on your neck doubles. This means that supporting your head in a forward position can create stress on your neck equivalent to nearly 60 pounds of force.
- People spend an average of four hours a day on their mobile phones.
- The top three online search queries about device-related pain are:
- “text neck”
- “texting thumb”
- “selfie elbow”
- While neck and shoulder pain affect people from all walks of life, women are 1.38 times more likely to experience it than men, and the most likely sufferers are:
- Office workers who work primarily on computers
- Healthcare workers
- Manual laborers
- Of the 35 million patients treated annually by US chiropractors, nearly a quarter of them seek treatment for neck pain.
- Neck pain stands as the fourth most common cause for disability, worldwide.
- Exercise and short breaks throughout the workday are cited as the best solutions for neck pain treatment.
Understanding Text Neck
While “text neck” is not a clinical term, it is used by doctors and physical therapists to refer to neck strain caused by the use of electronic devices. Excessive use of smartphones or tablets, whether for work or leisure, can result in repetitive stress injuries. Symptoms include:
- Aching or stabbing pain in the neck, upper back, and/or shoulders
- Muscle spasms
- Reduced balance
- Increased pain with neck movement
- Deconditioning of muscles in the neck, chest, and back, resulting in permanently rounded shoulders and a forward-tilting head posture
- Tightness in the neck, shoulders, and upper back that impedes mobility
- Jaw pain
Cervical Radiculopathy as a Consequence of Neck Strain
When stressors like text neck are prolonged, they can result in a chronic condition called Cervical Radiculopathy. This happens when a nerve root in the cervical spine becomes damaged, inflamed, or entrapped, causing neurological deficiencies.
Problems may include:
- Slow reflexes
Nerve root pain in the neck and shoulders can radiate all the way down to the hands and fingers.
Ways to Relieve Tension in the Neck and Shoulders
It is unrealistic to expect people to avoid using devices for extended periods of time. Smartphones and tablets are ubiquitous and are essential for work, education, home security, transportation, and more.
For neck pain relief and to avoid the long-term effects of neck and shoulder strain, take a break from your device for 5-10 minutes each hour. Walk around to stretch your legs, then perform the following simple exercises and stretches to improve your posture. Begin with 10 repetitions of each exercise, and remember to breathe rhythmically.
Neck Stretches and Exercises for Pain
Forward Neck Flexion
- Tilt your head forward with your chin to your chest
- Hold this position for a few seconds
- Slowly return to an erect position
- Sit erect, gazing forward, then slowly turn your head to look over your left shoulder
- Hold for a few seconds
- Return to your start position, then repeat to the right
- Lie on your back, arms at your sides
- Nod your head forward and touch your chin to your chest
- Hold for 3-5 seconds
- Slowly return to your start position
Perform the following exercises without weights or with two lightweight dumbbells. If you don’t have dumbbells, try using two water bottles. After your exercises, you can drink one to stay hydrated!
Seated Overhead Press
- Sit erect on a rigid chair with a weight in each hand, elbows bent, palms facing forward, and level with your shoulders.
- Slowly press your arms toward the ceiling.
- Pause briefly, then slowly lower your arms to your start position.
Front Dumbbell Raises
- Stand erect with weights in your hands and arms at your sides, palms facing backward.
- Keeping your elbows extended, slowly raise the dumbbells to shoulder height.
- Pause, then slowly lower to your start position.
- Stand erect, feet shoulder-width, arms at your sides, palms facing inward.
- Slowly raise your arms to your sides with slightly bent elbows until your dumbbells reach shoulder height.
- Pause briefly, then slowly lower to start position.
These neck stretches and exercises can help to relieve existing tension and pain in your neck, shoulders, and upper back, and they can help to prevent pain and injury in the future.
Discipline is key in terms of the amount of time you spend using devices. Balanced muscle tension ensures optimal alignment, and that comes with regular exercise. Balance your work hours with breaks throughout the day to alleviate strain from poor posture and lack of physical activity.
See a Top Specialist in NYC for Neck Pain Treatment
Sometimes even your best attempts at self-care cannot eliminate neck, shoulder, and back pain. For expert care, contact NYDNRehab in Manhattan. We use state-of-the-art technologies and proven therapies to get to the root cause of neck pain and treat the conditions that arise from it.
Call us today to realign your posture and improve your quality of life.