Causes of ‘tech neck’ and how to prevent it

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As mankind evolved over millions of years to stand upright, it’s only taken a couple of decades for technology to slouch our necks and backs. Dr. James Stirton, the head chiropractor at Winters Family Chiropractic, helps straighten out this phenomenon known as the ‘tech neck.’

Ironically enough, the onset of tech neck is similar to the age-old warning from the elderly to youngsters making silly faces, “If you keep making that face, it’s going to get stuck that way!” As it turns out, that’s not such a far-fetched warning since nearly everyone with a smartphone can attest to spending hours on end with their necks and heads bent down looking at it. The result is the degradation of one’s posture and an unsightly bend at the neck (hints at the name).

“A lot of additional neck pains and strains and headaches happen around this time of year. It’s not just the weather, but also the fact that we have probably the most electronics upgrades than any other time because of the holidays. That means we’re inside looking down at our electronics more,” said Stirton. “Usually, you start feeling it within weeks to a couple of months of use. It just depends on how flexible you are as well. But, the prominence of the lump at the base of the neck at the top of the shoulders is called the vertebral prominence. It’s noticeable on most people unless there’s swelling around it. The swelling, though, is a sign of the tech neck. And likely, in individuals who have that are experiencing regular bouts of strains and pains.”

In Stirton’s estimation, spending around two hours a day looking down at one’s various electronics will cause repetitive stress injury to one’s neck and back. It will yield strains, pains and headaches that are also bolstered by the change in the weather pressure.

“That area of the neck is called the cervical lordosis (which is the natural curve of the spine in the neck). Any transition point in the spine will have higher stress as well. So, it’s like it’s the highest spot of the crane you’re repetitively overloading,” said Stirton.

Of course, where there’s gloom and doom and aches and pains, Stirton is quick to provide measures and remedies to mitigate the damage.

“By the time the pain arrives, there’s a problem in the joints, in the bones of the neck and upper back. So, getting evaluated by a chiropractor would be a great idea to start the recovery in those areas getting chronic sprains. Another thing you can do is simply reduce your screen time,” Stirton said. “The big line in the sand is that you should never exceed how much time you sleep or work on your screen. If you sleep eight hours, you shouldn’t spend more than that on your technology. So, chiropractors will use adjustments and manipulations to help loosen and mobilize the stuck areas in the neck and back. Something else you can do at home is roll up a towel, lie on your back on the floor or bed and put it behind your neck and let your neck hang back. It’s like a mirror image of what you’re doing looking down and something we do at our office.”

For more information, call Winters Family Chiropractic at 530-795-4500, visit its website at, or email Stirton directly at

It’s like the good doctor always says, “If you’re not certain, ask Dr. Stirton.”

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