Technology: A Pain in the Neck
With so much time spent at home this year, you've probably recognized that you're spending more time using technology. From your weekend TV binge-watching sessions and browsing your smart phone, to sitting comfortably in front of your computer while you work from home – there's a lot to be said about the conveniences of being so connected, but all that screen time has the potential to negatively impact your body.
The human body has never had to compensate for the use of technology. While it's not as physically demanding as jobs have been over the course of evolution (like farming, building, or hunting), our bodies are trying to keep up with this new and rapid development demand. If you've noticed that your body is experiencing more aches and pains, it may be a sign of technology overuse. Below are some tips to recognize the signs and ways for you to reduce your pain.
Have you heard of the term "text neck"? If not, no need to worry, it's not an "official" name yet, but it's what we use to describe the strain that your neck muscles experience when you repeatedly look down at your smart device. You might get headaches, have forward head posture and hunched shoulders, or experience pain in your neck. If you are experiencing these symptoms, it's best to get examined to determine the severity and what we can do to treat it.
A diagnostic exam will consist of reviewing your medical history followed by a physical exam. Additional imaging will take place if more serious damage is suspected. Treatment for this condition also varies and can include stretching exercises, physical therapy and other techniques to reduce stress on the body.
Tip: Get in the habit of holding your phone out in front of you and not down in your lap.
All that scrolling and swiping probably has your thumb, hands, and wrist feeling the pressure. Repeated motions might be causing you to have a decrease in your grip strength and motion, and pain or numbness in your thumb or wrist. Your tendons are likely inflamed and texting, swiping, and using video game controllers might be the culprit. Because we use our hands so much, continuing to use technology when you're experiencing this type of pain could result in permanent damage.
Tip: Icing your thumb and wrist can help reduce inflammation and use voice commands to text whenever possible.
The back pain and poor posture you're experiencing could be due to technology use. With the amount of time that most Americans spend sitting at a desk all day, lower back pain is likely to occur at some point, which is often accompanied by slouching shoulders and overall poor posture. If your posture is off, it leads you to be more vulnerable to injury and generally feeling uncomfortable throughout the day.
Tip: Work on exercises that strengthen your core. This will help you sit up straight and align your spine.
If screen time is starting to impact the way you feel, then it's important to recognize when you need to take a break. Becoming conscious of the way your body feels when you do something repeatedly is the first step to taking back control. Most behaviors can be corrected over time with proper treatment and you don't have to completely disconnect to get back to living a healthier, pain free life.
The providers at Sturdy Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Associates are accepting new patients. Please call 508-342-1103.