Gadget Addicts, Take Care of Your Neck

Gadget Addicts, Take Care of Your Neck

Gadget addicts, take care of your neck


The world may seem lot more frightening after going through this particular post. It discusses what we put ourselves (and our dear ones) through in the name of being civilized and learned and upbeat. So be prepared for your pupils to dilate exponentially as you come to know the reasons behind, which make boxers, athletes and wrestlers put some extra TLC on building a strong neck.

The 'neck' story :

A strong neck is an insurance against bursitis, pinched nerve(s), whiplashes, tendonitis, herniated cervical discs or rotator cuff injuries. The neck is naturally built to tolerate sudden high impacts and act as a channel that ensures uninterrupted communications between the brain and the body. Trying the neck for all those it’s not supposed to and thus, damaging it is a direct breakdown in overall strength and power output of an individual.
However, airheads obsessed with their respective gadgets (computers, Xboxes, PSP etc.) seldom get things straight until they are bent out of shape.

Anatomy of the neck :

It’s the lower neck and the upper back that supports the head, while the top three joints in the neck allow for its movements. So, it is a complete and full-fledged supportive structure, which, if gets affected adversely, cause muscles to tighten (to compensate the lost support) and initiate the pain.

What triggers an achy-neck-y feel?

Ever since this new breed of workers called IT professionals came into the scene, funny ways to relax (“I was really beat developing the app, so relaxing with Max Payne now”) and recreate came up. It’s considered being upper-class, with the times et al being into such…er…activities; what one doesn’t feel that headiness is slowly bringing in is an unprecedented crisis on identity, actions and behavior. And most of that begins with a small pain in the neck.

Or, take the example of commuters to work. The journeys are usually long and boring, so there comes up an urge to use smart phones and tablets for playing the games or watching movies. The use of personal gadgets has increased over the last few years and so have arthritis and other types of repetitive strain injuries. And in number one, there’s the Text Neck, followed by the mockingly named laptop/tablet/iPad hunch. All of these may bring neck pain, though the root of the problem may not be in the neck itself. The hunch and the RSI may signal numerous other spinal problems, muscular tightness of the neck and the upper back or may be even due to the pinched nerves in and around one or more of the cervical vertebra. Joint disruption also stays a chief cause, which again gets started another slew of problems. It’s difficult telling if that disruption is taking its toll on any specific nerve (or, nerves) unless there are overt symptoms, but by that time, it will already be too late. An affected nerve (or, group of nerves) may also trigger a large spectrum of physical and emotional health problems, which is worse than dealing with physical (muscular or joint) stress (due to prolonged postures), brain fogging resulting in day to day minor injuries and affecting further the upper back problems.

An account of most common neck problems :

Hunching over anything for prolonged periods places the weight of the head on the last joint of the neck. Now, that’s absolutely no problem if for a limited period; but here, it occurs for two-thirds of the day (mobile    work computer    mobile    home computer), straining the neck joints more than their fair share. The muscles tire and it’s the bone joints that sometimes start rubbing against each other. For Blackberry users, it's worse.

Scrolling and typing is no more associated only with computers; with the office getting smaller as much as a Blackberry, the squinting of eyes is already a common syndrome among Blackberry users. That’s giving them the Blackberry frowns - but that’s not where the real problem is. It’s the awkward chin thrust that’s throwing things outta balance and portable computers (laptops, iPads and the likes) are fanning the flame even higher. These take tolls directly on the spine and the pressure makes the discs take a different arrangement, which is – at best - very painful to straighten out.

Maim the pain: Waking from an ergonomic dream

Ergonomics is still in its nascent stages, so wake up to reality. That’s the first step you will take towards freeing yourself from all that gadget-filled confinement. Else, find yourself sleepwalking towards a future where some intelligent device and daily drug cocktails shall replace your muscle power, senses, moods and performances. And no amount of Prozac shall be able to break things out of the prosaic surrounding. The effects of the electronic devices shall be felt on the micro-cellular brain structure and in its complex biochemistry.
All that are not going to make the hedonistic even this bit aware and he/she would go back almost instantly to live up the lost computer-generated moments, but for the rest, here are a few quick tips:

  • Sleep either on your side or on your back.
  • Never try sleeping on your stomach. It arches the back and gets tough on your spine and often, the neck.
  • Support the natural curve of the neck by tucking a small neck roll into the pillowcase. Use a flatter yet softer pillow, but best is using a memory foam pillow or one with a built-in neck support. Or, use a feather pillow. High or stiff pillows are equally bad; they aggravate pain and stiffness and doubles them overnight.
  • Side-sleepers, try keeping your spine straight. Use a pillow that is flatter under your head than under the neck.
  • Must you use your gadget while travelling; invest in a horseshoe-shaped pillow.

Reviewed By:

Dr. Kaushal M. Bhavsar (MBBS, MD)

Assistant Professor in Pulmonary Medicine, GMERS Medical College, Ahmedabad