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UPMC Expert: What the Heck is Tech Neck

Smartphones, tablets, and computers, oh my! Our world today surrounds the use of these gadgets. While our technology is advanced, our bodies have not evolved to accommodate the use of these devices, leaving us with aches and pains. These modern-day ailments are known as “tech neck” and are caused by holding your head forward or looking down for a prolonged period.


While it’s obvious that tech neck affects your neck/shoulders with persistent pain, other uncomfortable things can happen to your body. You may experience:
– Headaches – Looking down strains the neck, which increases tension on the neck, potentially resulting in or worsening neck and head ailments.
– Changes in Posture – Over time, your posture may become hunched with rounded shoulders, leading to upper back issues.
– Reduced Mobility – Stiffness may make it more difficult to move your neck or head, limiting the ability to function normally.
– Tingling or Numbness – In certain situations or positions, compressed nerves may lead to tingling or numbness in the arms or hands, and if severe enough, weakness in one or both extremities may occur.

Prevention Tips

To help prevent tech neck, it is important to practice good posture. Avoid forward tilting and make sure your head is in line with your spine. Do not hunch forward and keep your shoulders relaxed. Tilting increases the weight exerted on our heads.

If you keep catching yourself in incorrect positions, it might be worth looking into furniture that supports ergonomics and correct posture such as a chair with lumbar support or the use of a standing desk.

When you cannot adjust yourself, try adjusting the position of your screens. Keeping your device at eye level is the best way to help avoid a downward head tilt. Options may include stands or lowering your chair. Computer monitors should also be at an arm’s length away.

Frequent breaks from screens can also help your posture. Take time out of your day to get up, walk around, and stretch to relieve tension. Exercises that strengthen your upper back and neck muscles, along with abdominal muscles to keep the spine stable, can also help reduce the chances of developing tech neck.

Mindfulness of the condition and staying aware of your posture throughout your day is another prevention strategy. Try setting reminders on one of your devices to check and correct your posture if needed. Only we have the power to improve our health and posture.
When to Call Your Doctor

Persistent pain, tingling, and numbness is not normal. If you are experiencing these feelings, it is vital you seek professional help early – waiting only makes things worse. For more mild issues, physical therapy may provide relief through ergonomic adjustments or exercises to strengthen muscles. If symptoms persist or worsen, then obtaining neurologic evaluation is necessary to investigate the problem and develop a suitable treatment plan. For pain issues, certain medications can be used along with procedural options such as nerve blocks. However, in more severe cases, surgical options may be investigated.

Tech neck is a modern health condition that has the potential to significantly affect your well-being and functionality. Take the steps to care for your posture now to prevent future discomfort.

by Suhag R. Patel, PA-C
Neurology, UPMC

Suhag Patel, PA-C, sees patients at the UPMC Neurological Institute, 740 High St., 3rd Floor, Williamsport and the UPMC Outpatient Center, 1 Outlet Ln., Lock Haven. To make an appointment with Suhag at either location, call 570-321-2820. For more information about UPMC Neurological Institute services in northcentral Pa., visit