How Technology Could Be Hurting You

How Technology Could Be Hurting You

June 4, 2024

While we know there are many adverse effects of technology addiction on mental health and emotional wellbeing, there are also physical negative side effects that can come along with excessive use of technology. 

Common technology injuries:

  • Neck pain (“text neck”): If you text a lot, use your phone for excessive lengths of time, or have a desk set up that is too low, you could be at risk for increased neck pain. These activities make you keep your neck in prolonged flexion (looking down position). Holding the head in this position can put up to 60 lbs of force on the spine, depending on the angle at which you hold your head. The increased force on the spine can strain and inflame the muscles and ligaments of the cervical spine (neck), as well as of the upper back. 

  • Headache: excessive use of screens can strain and fatigue your eyes and cause headaches. Poor posture while sitting can also irritate the muscles and joints of the neck that can refer pain into the head and contribute to headaches.

  • Low back pain: sitting or standing for prolonged periods at a computer with poor posture can lead to inflammation and excess strain on the ligaments, joints, and muscles of the low back. The increased force through the lumbar spine can lead to low back pain.

  • Elbow tendonitis (“selfie elbow”): when taking selfies, people typically extend their elbows all the way straight in front of their body and curl their wrist either inward or outward while squeezing the ends of the phone with a tight grip. The tendons that originate in the elbow area and go into the hand are not made to perform these motions and positions for extended periods or repeatedly in a short time period. Excessive repetition of this awkward arm and hand position can cause inflammation of the muscles and tendons in your forearm.  

  • Thumb tendonitis (“Gamers/text thumb”): Repetitive movement of the thumb when playing games or texting/emailing a lot on your phone can irritate the tendons and joints of the thumb, leading to tendonitis. 

Now that we know some common technology injuries, here are some simple preventative measures you can take to avoid running into these issues when using technology:

  • Postural correction: While it can be challenging initially to sit or stand with correct posture, help yourself be more mindful of proper posture by setting reminder alarms to check on and correct your positioning if needed. 

  • Assess your work station: Keep all screens at eye level, adjust your chair to a comfortable height so your feet can be flat on the floor, and make sure your arm rests are high enough to reach your elbows. Consider using a lumbar support pillow to keep your spine in proper alignment. If you have the option to sit or stand, alternate between the two positions every 1-2 hours. 

  • Take breaks: Every 1-2 hours, be sure to change positions, stretch, and stand  for a few minutes to promote circulation and prevent excessive force and strain on your body. 

  • Move: Stay active! Exercise regularly, stretch your muscles, get outside, go for walks, etc. This also allows for an opportunity to unplug from technology for a bit.

Still having pain? Call or text us today for a free phone consultation to determine if physical therapy is right for you!