Almost everyone owns a cell phone or some form of mobile communication device. While these devices make it easy to send text messages, e-mail, surf the internet, listen to music, read books and, of course, make phone calls, their compact size increases the risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders of the neck, shoulders, arms, and hands.

Buzz terms such as “tech neck” have been used to describe the physical symptoms experienced by overuse of these devices. While massages may provide soothing temporary relief, the symptoms and possible long-term injuries will develop if the root cause is not controlled or eliminated.

Symptoms of “tech neck” (more commonly known as tension neck syndrome)

  • Rounded shoulders.
  • Pain between the shoulder blades.
  • Possible migraine headaches and muscle fatigue; knots in the shoulders; tight neck; numbness and tingling (“pins and needles”) in the forearm down to the fingers.

This usually results from performing activities with the neck in flexion. By now we have all heard that the computer monitor should be set up in a position where the top of the monitor is at or slightly below eye level for most users in order to promote a healthy, neutral posture. This should also be adapted to other activities such as reading documents, playing video games, and of course using hand-held technical devices.

When using a cell phone or tablet

Hold the device so that the screen is at or slightly below eye level. This allows you to keep your head in a neutral posture without putting pressure on the cervical spine.

  • Keep your elbows close to your body to minimize fatigue to your arms.
  • Avoid sending messages while walking and NEVER while driving. Find a spot to sit if you are walking. If you’re driving, pull over and place the car in park.

For more information related to this topic, read ErgoMatters® Texting Tenosynovitis.