In today’s world, we have so much access to technology that it is nearly impossible to go through a day without it. Even as I am writing this blog, I am using a laptop because quite frankly there would be no other way to accomplish this task. We live for technology, it allows us to communicate with others, to know what it happening throughout the world, check emails, etc. just to name a few things. Technology is right at our fingertips, literally, and we thrive to constantly have access to know what is going on at all times. Unfortunately, when using technology, proper posture tends to lack. Everywhere you go you can see people using computers or cell phones, and the majority of the people you see do not have an upright posture. Bad posture when using technology for long period of time leads to neck pain which is called “text neck”. Text neck has symptoms that include neck pain, soreness, upper back pain, shoulder pain, and headaches.
Text neck is very easy to acquire, but thankfully it is just as easy to treat and/or prevent issues going forward. The first and foremost treatment options include rest and ice/heat. Rest and ice/heat help to decrease the current symptoms of irritation in the neck. Massage is also beneficial is helping to release muscle tension and spasms, which ultimately decrease pain. Over the counter medications including analgesics (such as Tylenol) and/or anti-inflammatories (such as Ibuprofen) can furthermore decrease acute symptoms. With over the counter medications it is always important to contact your healthcare provider to ensure these are not contraindicated for you and a safe option for you.
Prevention of text neck symptoms is imperative to continue to be able to function in this technology world. When using a cell phone or computer, make sure it is at eye level. The purpose of having the screen at eye level is to prevent bending your head forward or looking down at the screen. Taking breaks throughout the day from using technology is good not only for text neck but also it is good for your eyes. The standard to take breaks to get up and walk around about every 30 minutes. If getting up and moving frequently during work is difficult, then it is important to always be monitoring your posture. As stated before, poor posture is what contributes to the text neck symptoms. Better posture may include having to change up your work station to make it more ergonomically friendly. An ergonomically friendly desk set up would include having a chair, monitor, and keyboard set up in a way that they allow the body, neck, and head to be aligned in a natural upright position. Sitting can also be difficult for people and exacerbate symptoms therefore having a standing desk option is very beneficial. Not all desks are actual standing desks so an example of a standing desk is through FlexiSpot called the Stylish Sit-stand Smart Workstation EM6S. This is something that would be placed on top of a preexisting work station and can be adjusted to allow you to work either standing or sitting. You do not have to actually manually adjust this desk to go up or down, there is simply a button you push that allows you to move it up and down automatically to the appropriate height. It also has a “memory” to it, so it can be programed to have the settings you need for sitting or standing (just like in a car, you can preset the seat adjustments so if someone uses your seat you are then able to go back to the settings you had). For another option, instead of placing the apparatus on a desk there is another option which is an actual desk itself that has the ability to be adjusted from a sitting to a standing height. This desk is also through FlexiSpot and is called the Electric Height Adjustable Desk EN1. In addition to the adjustable capabilities, you can set an alert so to remind you to stand/sit and change positions. Alerts are beneficial to have as during the day you may get so caught up in the work that has to be done that your posture then starts to lack and the proper upright body alignments do not occur. Therefore, standing up or sitting down will help to change positions and essentially readjust to a proper body alignment whether in a sitting or a standing position.
Going forward text neck is going to continue to become a common problem for everyone as technology becomes more and more a part of our daily lives in ways that we could ever imagine. Technology has certainly done some great things in helping to make things “easier”, but unfortunately can come with some consequences to our body. Our body posture is the biggest thing that gets affected, so it is important that once symptoms of text neck begin to consider ergonomics of how you are using these devices. You do not need to even have symptoms of text neck to start thinking about this, the time is now to consider it. Appropriate ergonomics in all aspects are very important, but the thankfully is this is something you are able to control and essentially prevent/treat text neck. In conclusion, an adjustable standing/sitting workstation is a great thing to start with now.