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All our texting and hunching over electronic devices is a pain in the neck – and causing neck pain. "Tech neck," also called "text neck," is a new name for an old foe: neck pain caused by repetitive strain and injury to the muscles and other tissue structures of the top of your spine. An estimated 1 in 10 people suffer from tech neck at any given time.

The symptoms related to tech neck are typically mild at first, says Holy Name orthopedic surgeon Daniel Feghhi, MD, but can increase as the condition advances.

Symptoms include:

  • Aches in the lower neck, shoulder, and upper back
  • Sharp, stabbing pain that is intense and in one specific location
  • Headaches
  • Stiffness and reduced mobility in the neck, upper back, and shoulders
  • Increased pain when tilting the head forward
  • Tingling pain or numbness in the jaw, arms, and hands

"When a person looks down to text or view a screen, this movement places 50 to 60 pounds of pressure on the neck's muscles, ligaments, and tendons," notes Dr. Feghhi. "The neck cannot stand that type of force for prolonged periods without problems."

There are many options to alleviate the pain in the comfort of your home to correct posture and relieve pressure. Muscle strain responds well to rest, stretching, and massage. Movement and stretches that support proper posture and shoulder position can help, including arm circles, rowing motions, chin tucks, ear-to-shoulder stretches, yoga positions, and squeezing the shoulders together.

If you begin to feel sore, apply ice for the first 48-72 hours to relieve pain and swelling. After that, switch to warm compresses, such as a heating pad, or a warm bath to help muscles and tendons stretch and heal.

He advises it is time to schedule a visit with your physician if you experience feelings of "pins and needles" in your hands and/or fingers, or if you have a significantly limited range of motion in your shoulders.

If the injuries are more advanced, injectable nerve blocks can ease pain in irritated joints. For stricken neck discs and spinal nerves, which can cause pain to travel down to the arms and hands, an epidural steroid injection can reduce inflammation and pain.

"Of course, preventing tech neck is the best option," says Dr. Feghhi. "Take plenty of breaks, maintain good posture, replace your office chair so you are at eye-level with your monitor, and use a stand or holder for your tablet or smartphone rather than keep it at waist-level."