What is Tech Neck? -Dr. Valerie Girard, Santa Barbara Chiropractor
Our mothers pestered us to have good posture while we were growing up. Slouching came easy to students who grew tired of sitting as the school day wore on and on. It wasn’t only the youth who succumbed to bad posture, but most adults after the age of 50 with curved spines and heads jutting forward. Executives and secretaries alike talked on the phone with it cradled on their shoulders. No wonder that so many complained of neck and shoulder issues.
Then came computers, cell phones and video games. Almost everyone now is constantly glued to his or her cell phone. This causes the cervical spine to be positioned forward and down, which in turn eventually compresses the spinal nerves that exit the spinal column. This is now being referred to as Tech Neck.
Compressed nerves will cause pain to radiate down the back into the shoulder blade area, into the shoulder itself, down the arm and sometimes into the chest area. The compressed nerves may also cause muscles of the shoulder to fail and therefore not function properly. This causes the shoulder to become vulnerable to sprains, bursitis, tendonitis and rotator cuff issues.
In the past 10 years, shoulder problems have become more common and often misdiagnosed as “rotator cuff tears.” I cannot tell you how many patients have wanted to get MRI’s and surgery to alleviate shoulder pain. Before they do so, I ask them to give me a month to correct their neck and shoulder issues. In many cases, the radiating pain and shoulder instability resolve in just a few treatments.
I tell patients that the shoulder joint is itself a miracle. It is like a baseball bat hanging from a tea saucer with cartilage and muscles holding it in place while we pitch, lift, contort, push and pull our way through life. Because humans are living longer, their joints must last decades more than their forefathers.
How to Treat Tech Neck
If you have shoulder problems that have developed over time rather than occurred from a specific injury, consider being checked for lower cervical problems. There are specific non-force alignments of the spine that will potentially correct both neck and shoulder issues. In addition, the muscles of the shoulder may need to be strengthened or released with deep tissue therapy. In addition, laser therapy can be very therapeutic in both relieving radiating shoulder pain as well as healing tendonitis and bursitis of the shoulder.
In addition, begin to examine and be conscious of your posture. Most people want to avoid developing a hump in their upper back. Certain exercises that can be performed for just seconds daily will reset your neck back into proper alignment and help you avoid developing shoulder issues. Icing the lower aspect of the neck just above the collarbone can bring relief.
Avoid hours on the computer and above all, do not succumb to what I see many teenagers doing around town: hunching over their phones for hours, texting or playing video games.
If you are suffering from shoulder or rotator cuff issues and are not keen on getting shoulder surgery, you owe it to yourself to get an assessment that included the cervical spine and shoulder alignment. In addition, know that doing corrective stretches daily may help you prevent injuries or issues in the future. Look further on my website for shoulder stretches if you are interested in starting a life of good posture and healthy shoulders, today.
Dr. Valerie Girard is a chiropractor based in Santa Barbara, CA with over 30 years of experience in holistic chiropractic treatments for the family, cold laser therapy, holistic energetic medicine, functional medicine, orthotics and much more. You can contact her at 1725 State Street B, Santa Barbara, CA 93101 (805) 687-1617