Tech Neck Epidemic: Unveiling the Silent Strain of Digital Dependency

United States: Americans dedicate approximately 5 ½ hours daily to their mobile devices, in addition to extended periods gazing at computer screens and laptops. This behavior, compounded by the substantial transition towards remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic, wherein individuals often maintain sedentary positions for prolonged durations in ergonomically unfavorable postures, has precipitated an epidemic known as “tech neck,” or colloquially, “text neck.”

The neurological damage is severe, ranging from the occasional tingling in the fingers and extending into the toes and continuing into the spine, leading to disorders of the cervical spine like osteoarthritis, bone spurs, and herniated discs.

But on the contrary to this digital devices like smartphones, laptops and etc. that provide access to a great many of information cause things that we literally feel such as neck pain.

It is at this Spine Center of UT Southwestern that a specialty team made up of experienced and diversified doctors uses a holistic approach to diagnose, counsel, and treat patients with different degrees of neck pain. On the non-surgical side, there are pharmacological strategies, physiotherapeutic intervention, trigger points therapy, injection of local anesthetics and corticosteroids, nerve blocks, and minimally invasive procedures such as radiofrequency ablation. If, by chance, the surgery procedure would not possibly give any results, then our surgeons have high-tech surgical options available for your treatment.

Given the user-friendly and pervasive technologies our smartphones provide and the overreliance of many on digital contacts, we are in dire need of efforts that target the group as a whole – individually or en masse, in conjunction with the use of effective therapeutic interventions and preventive measures.

What renders the neck particularly susceptible to injury?

The typical adult cranium weighs 10-12 pounds; however, when inclined forward at a 45-degree angle, the resultant force exerted on the cervical region escalates to nearly 50 pounds.

Human beings assume an upright posture; protracted periods of downward gazing contravene our natural design, thereby subjecting the cervical spine to undue pressure. Comprising seven vertebrae (C1-C7) separated by intervertebral discs and interconnected by facet joints, the cervical spine serves to safeguard the spinal cord and its myriad nerve fibers.

Facet joints—two per vertebra—facilitate the articulation and mobility of the neck. Nonetheless, when these joints sustain strain or injury, thereby impeding nerve conduits, the surrounding musculature instinctively contracts in a bid to shield them, yielding inflammation, pain, and tension in the neck—commonly known as tech neck, as per

Tech Neck - Posture
Tech Neck – Posture

Tech neck, however, represents merely one facet of neck afflictions. Traumatic events such as falls, sports-related injuries, or vehicular accidents, in addition to degenerative conditions like osteophyte formation and arthritis, can precipitate neck trauma. Disc herniation and spinal stenosis, characterized by spinal canal constriction, similarly contribute to neck pathology.

However, the predominant ailment encountered among patients is axial neck discomfort, localized to the neck region and predominantly attributed to muscular tightness and joint inflammation.

Discerning the etiology of neck pain entails an interactive dialogue and investigative inquiry.

Physical examination, including assessments of reflexes, muscular vigor, and cervical alignment, serves as the initial diagnostic modality. Radiographic imaging, such as X-rays, elucidates structural anomalies and misalignments, while magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) unveils soft tissue aberrations, such as disc protrusions or severe arthritic changes within the articulations.

The confluence of advanced imaging techniques, meticulous physical scrutiny, and a comprehensive clinical history typically facilitates the identification of the underlying cause of neck discomfort.