Screen Neck – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

How much time do you spend looking at your phone, tablet, Kindle or some other hand-held mobile device?  It’s probably more than you think.  79% of the population between 18 and 44 years of age have their mobile phones with them almost all the time, with only 2 hours of their waking day spent without their mobile to hand.

The infogram below (click on the image to view in more detail) indicates the increasing force placed on the neck from holding the head in a forwards and downward position.

Most of us do this too frequently and for too long every day.  Add to this the amount of time we spend with our heads pushed forward while driving or watching the television or working on the computer and you can see why the neck and upper back are so often overworked.

Symptoms associated with screen neck

  • a constant, nagging pain in the upper back, or a sharp pain resulting from the muscles of the upper back spasming;
  • shoulder pain and tightness;
  • pinched nerves in the neck, resulting in pain and perhaps neurological symptoms that radiate down the arm and into the hand;
  • compression and herniation of the discs in the neck;
  • tension headaches;
  • decreased respiratory muscle strength and a loss of lung capacity by as much as 30%.  This shortness of breath can lead to heart and blood vascular disease;
  • early onset of arthritis in the neck.

How to avoid screen neck

To prevent the development or advancement of screen neck:

  • hold mobile devices at eye-level;
  • take a break from looking at a screen every 20-30 minutes;
  • have a Bowen treatment or for those with more masochistic tendencies, try a deep tissue massage focused on the neck, shoulder and upper back;
  • do Pilates on a regular basis:
    • to build strong and flexible muscles in the neck to minimize the strain on the cervical spine and help support the weight of the head;
    • to build strong core muscles, which help to support the upper body in alignment;

To close, Jack White’s acoustic performance of The Rose with the Broken Neck…

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