Tech neck is a musculoskeletal pain disorder caused by hunching forward to use your smart phone or other device.

Smart phone addiction and tech neck came up in conversation several times this week. Wellness professionals are expecting smart phone addiction to become an even bigger problem in years to come as younger generations join the workforce. However, the most alarming conversation was with a Stryker spine representative who mentioned that teenagers are already consulting spine surgeons as a result of tech neck issues. 

Pain is a leading cause of disability and a major contributor to healthcare utilization. However, the total cost is even greater to the individual, companies and the country as a result of lost wages, productivity and employment. The annual US cost for treatment and lost wages related to musculoskeletal disorders was $213 billion or 1.4% of GDP and with related health conditions including diabetes, heart disease and obesity factored in, the cost was $874 billion or 5.7% of GDP in 2015.

According to a 2016 National Health Statistics Report more than 50% of US adults had a musculoskeletal pain disorder in 2012 of which 14.3% reported neck pain and/or problems. Fortunately, people suffering with neck pain are more likely to use one or more complementary health approaches including:

  • Natural products which includes non vitamin, nonmineral, dietary supplements and special diets
  • Practitioner-based therapies including Alexander technique, chiropactic or osteopathic manipulation, Feldenkrais, massage therapy and trigger psychophysical integration
  • Mind and body approaches including meditation, progressive relaxation, Pilates, tai chi, qi gong and yoga
  • Whole medical systems including Ayurveda, acupuncture, homeopathy, naturopathy and traditional healers.

Practitioner-based therapies and Mind and Body approaches are most commonly used by neck pain suffers. In fact, many are reportedly using complementary health approaches for treatment despite a lack of health insurance coverage because they work.

The best thing to do is to prevent musculoskeletal pain disorders and if you look at the list of the complementary health approaches, the Mind and Body approaches are the least expensive and easiest to incorporate into your lifestyle.

Incorporating Mind and Body approaches into your lifestyle

  • What’s your level of motivation? If working out has never really been your thing, you may need a nudge to make it a habit. Working out with a trainer, group workouts, friends and/or a tracker can all help.
  • What’s your level of knowledge? Doing exercises with correct form is as important as working out. Pick workouts that are right for your health status and fitness level so that you master the moves and enjoy the experience.
  • What’s your budget? If your company doesn’t provide a fitness benefit and your insurance coverage for practitioner-based therapies is limited, try some of the free community workouts and free videos

If you’re working out at home, invest in a few basics: thick exercise mat to cushion your boney parts, yoga mat, roller, light weights, resistance bands and a ball. Buy what you can and add things to keep your workouts fresh and challenging.

If you have medical concerns or need medical clearance to workout, schedule a call with Peter Gerbino MD. Dr. Gerbino is an Orthopedic Surgeon specializing in sports medicine who is currently supporting the US Figuring Skating team and available to you through the Hello Workout platform.