How Tech Gadgets are Hurting Your Neck and Back

If you find yourself spending a lot of time on your smartphone, tablet or laptop, you're not alone. Most of us rely on mobile devices for information throughout our day—whether for work or pleasure. However, the constant use of these devices could lead to neck and back pain, called "tech neck."

Tech neck happens because, when you use a device, your back is hunched, your head tilted forward and your shoulders curved. All of this puts pressure on your neck, which in turn puts pressure on your spine. This can result in headaches, neck aches, and back and shoulder pain. 

Reducing the effects of tech neck
You're not likely to give up your phone or mobile device anytime soon, so what can you do to reduce the potential damage to your body? Here are three tips to reduce the tension and aches caused by tech neck:

  1. Check your posture. If you are sitting, keep your feet flat on the floor. Keep your shoulders back and your ears at an equal distance from your shoulders. Look straight ahead with your chin in a neutral (not up or down) position.
  2. Position your device. If you're using a laptop, place it arm's length away on a desktop and use wrist guards to prevent injury while resting on your work surface. Consider using a docking station to keep your mobile device steady and at eye level whenever possible. When you're using your device while standing, hold it at eye level so you don't have to bend your neck to look down.
  3. Take a break. While you're working, take a small break about every 20 minutes to stand up and stretch or even walk around for a few minutes. Roll your shoulders to relieve neck pressure. A trick to keep from looking at your device too often is to set specific times during the day to check social media rather than checking it multiple times throughout the day.

Do you suffer from symptoms of tech neck? Make an appointment with The Christ Hospital Physicial Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) team.

Dr. Tabbosha graduated from Ain Shams University in Egypt, earning his M.D. and Master of Surgery. After completing his training, he practiced neurosurgery in 3 different countries, including his hometown of Cairo. After coming to the United States, Dr. Tabbosha completed an additional neurosurgery residency from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), as well as spine and neuro-oncology fellowships from Wayne State University and the University of Virginia. Dr. Tabbosha’s special interests include treating patients with complex spine problems and deformities (like scoliosis or kyphosis), degenerative spine disease, back and neck pain, spine tumors, spine trauma, and spine surgery revisions. He is a member of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, Congress of Neurological Surgeons, and American Medical Association. Prior to joining The Christ Hospital, Dr. Tabbosha has worked as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at UAMS, where he specialized in complex spine surgery.