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There’s absolutely no question that we love our high tech gadgets.

There’s absolutely no question that we love our high tech gadgets.

In fact, in the time it would take you to finish reading this article, you have almost certainly gotten or sent more than one text or email. Over the course of a single day, more than 4 billion people around the world will send almost 19 billion text messages.1 Americans are responsible for approximately half of those texts.

Furthermore, Americans text on a weekly basis and are twice as likely to communicate by text message as by talking on the phone.1 If we look at email statistics, more than 3.7 billion people around the world send out 269 billion emails each day.2 Americans also lead the way in the number of emails sent and received.

As with many other technological advances in today’s fast-paced world, all of this time spent sending and receiving texts and emails comes at a price. In this case, it’s a painful phenomenon, mainly affecting the neck and shoulders, which has become known as tech neck.

What causes this painful condition, what are its symptoms, and how can it be treated?

What causes tech neck?

Tech neck happens when people spend too much time with their head and neck extended too far forward over their body while looking at a computer screen. It can also happen when people repeatedly tuck their head down over their chin and hunch their shoulders while sending or receiving text messages on a cell phone.

Although the average adult skull normally weight approximately 10 pounds, the action of extending it forward or downward for extended periods of time actually exerts as much as 50 pounds of gravitational pressure on the neck and shoulders, resulting in tech neck.

Tech neck symptoms

Although neck and shoulder pain are the most common symptoms, others may also occur. These can include upper back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and migraines or headaches. Your patients may also notice blurry vision and sometimes even numbness in the fingers, particularly the thumbs.

Tech neck treatments

The easiest way to treat tech neck is by preventing it from happening in the first place by taking a break from all that texting and emailing. Your patients should look up from their computer screens or smartphones about every half hour. A reminder that will pop up on their computer or phone screen is an easy way to alert them that its time for a break is an excellent way to accomplish this.

Having your patients add in some simple neck exercises when they take a break will also help prevent tech neck. The key to these exercises is that they must be done slowly and gently. Have your patients gently tilt their head from one side to the other, and then slowly roll their head in circles. Shoulder circles can also help loosen up the arms and wrists, as well as the upper back.

Of course, you will also want to provide your patients with adjustments to relieve pressure on the nerves leading out from the cervical and thoracic vertebrae. In cases such as tech neck, instrument assisted adjustments can provide just the relief your patients are seeking.

An adjusting instrument can ease the cervical and upper thoracic vertebrae back into proper alignment. Since it is highly unlikely that your patients will stop texting and emailing altogether, you will need to set up a maintenance treatment plan to keep on top of treatment for tech neck.

Such technological advances as smartphones and email technology allow us to work more effectively and efficiently. Unfortunately, there are drawbacks to these high-tech devices, including the development of tech neck. However, a combination of instrument-assisted adjustments and home exercises can help your patients keep up with current fast-paced communications without risk of injury.



  1. 63 Texting Statistics that Answer All Your Accessed 4/19/2016.
  2. Email Statistics Report 2017-2021. Radicati Group. Accessed 4/19/2017.
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