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‘Tech neck’ explained: How kids can avoid getting it

Credit: Kidsday staff artist / Lingfei Zhao, Syosset

Think back to just yesterday. Did you use a handheld device? What about today? Do you plan on using one tomorrow? The thing is, we all pretty much use some form of smart technology. But how much is too much?

I find myself glued to my iPad, and to be honest I am probably not the only one. Recently I have been experiencing neck and back pains. By the way, I’m only 10! Is this normal?

I visited Dr. Gary Spero, a chiropractor in Amityville. Here is our conversation:

Kaelynn: I came to you about a month ago because I was feeling neck and back pain, and it was really bothering me. What exactly is “tech neck,” and when did you first notice this in your chiropractic office?

Dr. Spero: Tech neck is a painful condition of the cervical spine (neck) associated with a downward-looking gaze putting increased stressors on the neck muscles and joints. I first noticed this around 10 years ago.

Kaelynn: Have you seen an increase in the number of patients complaining about neck and back issues, and what do you attribute this to?

Dr. Spero: Yes, there has been an increase in the number of cases, especially in younger patients. This is most likely due to parents giving their children smartphones and tablets at earlier ages. Anyone who uses smartphones and tablets is susceptible to getting tech neck, especially those who spend more than one hour collectively per day on these type of devices.

Kaelynn: What are some of the symptoms that you look for before treating your patients?

Dr. Spero: Patients with tech neck experience neck pain and upper back pain and tightness. Headaches are a common symptom. If left untreated, patients could affect the nerves in the neck and develop numbness in the hands.

Kaelynn: Is this something that can be corrected?

Dr. Spero: Tech neck is treatable! Reduce the amount of time on your handheld devices, and also perform exercises that help strengthen the cervical spine along with chiropractic or physical therapy.

You heard it straight from a professional. If you want to avoid getting tech neck, try using your handheld devices in moderation. Take it from me: No one likes a pain in the neck!

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