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Three tips to avoid “tech neck” when you have degenerative joint disease

As our world has become more reliant on technology, we tend to spend more and more time looking at our phones, laptops and tablets. This has led to the development of “tech neck,” a condition that occurs when someone holds his or her head flexed forward, usually while looking downward at a handheld device. Although sending a few texts or reading a couple of articles here and there may not seem like a big deal, maintaining this position for long periods of time can place strain on the muscles and spinal discs, potentially leading to headaches and pain in the neck, shoulders and arms. Tech neck can be especially harmful to someone living with degenerative joint disease, a painful condition characterized by the gradual wearing down of cartilage within the joints.

If you’ve been diagnosed with degenerative joint disease in your neck, or if you’re concerned about developing this condition, you may want to consider the following three tips for avoiding tech neck:

  1. Keep your head back. Instead of holding your device on your lap, place it somewhere where you can view it at eye level. Although it can be difficult to remember to do this, try placing your head against the backboard while you’re sitting in bed, or against a headrest while you’re sitting in a chair or car, as doing so will prevent you from bending your neck forward. You can even purchase gadgets that will elevate your device so that you can easily maintain a straight line of vision.
  2. Take breaks. If you’re going to be using your device for more than a couple of minutes at a time, remember to take regular breaks. Before you begin using your device, take note of the time and remind yourself to take a break after a certain number of minutes have passed. Many phones, laptops and tablets include alarms and other tools that you can program to give you automatic reminders.
  3. Stretch. Make the most of the breaks mentioned above by using that time to stretch your neck. Try flexing your neck forward, to the right and to the left for a few seconds at a time in each position. You can also rotate your head to either side, as if you’re looking over each shoulder, and hold that position for a few seconds before returning to the center.

To learn more about degenerative joint disease and the minimally invasive outpatient surgeries that USA Spine Care offers to treat this condition, please contact us today. We offer free MRI reviews* that help us determine whether someone might be a candidate for our minimally invasive procedures.

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