How to prevent ‘tech neck’ in the young

New Delhi,UPDATED: March 5, 2023 4:26 PM IST

By Shelly Anand: Neck pain is an increasing health concern in the age of digital devices as it is quite common to stay connected for hours. Due to the advent of newer and more accessible technologies, this condition appears to be shifting from adulthood to young people—even school-age children and teenagers. Excessive use of devices such as computers, laptops, tablets and mobile phones could be the reason behind the development of a complex group of clinical symptoms commonly referred to as “Tech Neck Syndrome”.

Tech neck is a relatively new term used to describe the pain and discomfort caused by prolonged use of digital devices. When people use their devices for long periods of time, they tend to tilt their head forward, which puts stress on their neck and spine. Over time, this can lead to chronic pain, headaches, and even long-term spinal problems.

dr Yash Gulati, Senior Consultant, Orthopaedics, Joint Replacement and Spine, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi explains: “The problem is particularly serious among the younger generation, who are more likely to spend long hours on their devices for online study and social causes media and entertainment. In addition, their bodies are still developing and exposure to prolonged use of the device can have more serious consequences on their physical health.”

According to the Global Burden of Disease, neck pain is the eighth leading cause of most years spent with disabilities for 15- to 19-year-olds – more common than other youth health problems such as asthma, alcohol and drug use, and road traffic injuries. There is also evidence that children and adolescents with persistent pain are at increased risk of chronic pain as they become adults.

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according to dr Kanchankumar Ramrao Bhagyawant, Consultant Pediatrician and Neonatologist, Ruby Hall Clinic, Pune, technical neck symptoms mainly include neck pain radiating to the back and shoulders in those who spend several hours using their smartphones and handheld devices in the typical posture from spend bend your neck forward. “Because of this, they can suffer from nearsightedness, eyestrain or dry eyes. Other problems could include trouble sleeping, dizziness, headaches, tingling in the hands, and behavior changes,” adds Dr. Bhagywant added.

Poor posture can contribute to the worsening of the condition. dr Gulati suggests some precautions. “Keep your computer screen at eye level. This can help maintain a neutral spine and prevent neck and shoulder strain. Use a monitor riser or adjust the chair and desk to ensure the screen is at the correct height. Sit up straight, keep your shoulders back and head up, and avoid bending or bending over. Take frequent breaks from your machines to stretch your neck, shoulders, and back,” he says.

dr Arjun Dhawale, Specialist in Orthopaedics, Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital, Mumbai, says the posture should be kept straight by keeping the screen at eye level and avoiding prolonged forward bending of the neck as this leads to cervical spine strain and muscle fatigue .

Awareness raising is a must and parents should carefully monitor their children’s daily habits and control such harmful use of tech devices. “Avoid excessive use of handheld devices, PCs, and video games, and take frequent breaks. Avoid tapping, swiping, or using the mouse for long periods of time, and avoid holding large and/or heavy devices in one hand for long periods of time,” says Dr. Bhagyavant.

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