There are lots of perks about working from home — better focus, the ability to attend a function at your child’s school or go to a doctor’s appointment with no fuss, the luxury of working in your sweat pants, and more. However, long hours at your laptop can take a toll on your body, especially your neck.
According to the Pew Research Center, the trend of working remotely is here to stay, with a little over a third of remote workers now doing 100% of their work from home. More and more people who work from home are experiencing “tech neck,” or neck pain that develops when you spend hour after hour leaning forward, staring at your screen while working.
The Advanced Spine and Pain team treats tech neck sufferers and can also recommend how to alter your home office setup and routine to eliminate symptoms and prevent pain. When you seek treatment at ASAP, we partner with you so you can get relief, enjoy increased mobility, and stop worrying if work is doing long-term damage to your body.
What is tech neck, exactly?
Though people can suffer from tech neck from looking at their phones and tablets also, those working from home at their desks are also major candidates to suffer from symptoms:
- Neck pain and stiffness
- Tension that extends to your upper back
- Jaw pain and other temporomandibular joint (TMJ) symptoms
- Hand weakness, tingling, or numbness
- Noticing a curvature at the base of your neck
- Rotator cuff tendonitis, characterized by shoulder pain and stiffness
The posture problems that lead to tech neck can lengthen your neck muscles and shorten the chest muscles — a perfect recipe for amplified spinal pressure on the neck.
If you suffer from tech neck for too long, you’re also at risk for cervical radiculopathy (when you have an irritated, compressed cervical nerve root), which can cause severe jolts of pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness from your neck on down through your shoulder, arm, and hand.
What can be done about my tech neck pain?
Your Advanced Spine and Pain doctor can recommend things you can do to reverse your symptoms and prevent them from returning, including:
- Getting a standing desk so you don’t have to look down at your screen
- Investing in an ergonomic chair with an adjustable headrest
- Taking periodic breaks, walking around, changing your position, and stretching
- Being mindful of maintaining proper posture as you work
Certain exercises can help, too, including doing the “cobra” yoga pose, where you lie flat, face down on the floor, and lift your shoulders and head up. Don’t enlist too much help from your arms. Maintain the stretch for about 30 seconds. This move counters what you do when you work at your computer.
Another good one is the chin tuck, where you make a “double chin” gesture and pull your head back while standing or sitting with a straight spine. Hold for about five seconds, release, and repeat.
The important thing is to position yourself correctly when working so you're looking straight ahead at your screen — whether sitting or standing.
We can help treat tech neck pain with conservative approaches like pain medication and physical therapy. We might also advise you to wear a cervical collar for a time, a device that eases pressure on your neck nerves and allows your neck muscles to heal.
Contact the closest Advanced Spine and Pain office to schedule a consultation if you suffer from tech neck, or book one online.