Do you spend a significant amount of time on your phone or tablet gaming or texting? Many people have neck strain from constantly looking downward, a condition called text or gamer neck. If you have gamers neck, there are posture changes and treatments that can give you relief.
What is Gamers Neck?
Gamer neck is a term used to describe the pain and discomfort felt in the neck and upper back after long periods of gaming. This is often caused by poor posture and repetitive motion, such as looking down at a screen or holding a controller for extended periods of time.
Gamer neck is caused by strain on the muscles and tendons within the neck and shoulders. When the head is tilted forward, it puts excess strain on certain muscles, and others can become weaker. This can result in a muscular imbalance in the neck that can cause extreme discomfort.
One of the contributors to gamer neck is posture. When you are focused on your screen, you may not realize your gamer posture and how it is putting strain on your neck and shoulders. Many people who spend excessive time on their phones or tablets slump or slouch, which can lead to gamers neck.
Symptoms of Gamer or Text Neck
If you have gamers neck, it probably has occurred over several weeks or months of spending many hours staring at your screens. Most people with this condition start having symptoms occasionally, which become more frequent and severe over time. Some symptoms of gamer’s neck include:
- Stabbing pain in the neck and shoulders
- Stiffness in the neck
- Throbbing pain in the shoulder and neck area
- Lower back pain
- Limited range of motion when turning or adjusting the neck
- Muscle spasms within the neck which can cause radiating pain into the shoulders and arms
- Referred pain due to trigger points in the neck and shoulder muscles
Not only does gamer neck hurt when you are looking at your device, it can cause pain when driving, exercising and sleeping. There are prevention methods and treatments that can help provide relief for those who spend excessive time gaming or on hand-held mobile devices.
Preventing Gamer Neck
To prevent gamer neck, it’s important to take frequent breaks, stretch regularly, and maintain good gamer posture. It is keeping your neck in the same position for hours each day that can result in muscle atrophy, trigger points, spasms and other chronic problems. Tips for prevention include:
- Proper gaming posture. You want to keep your head upright and not hunch or slouch when you are gaming or staring at your screen. Being mindful of your posture can help prevent tech neck.
- Take breaks. Set a timer on your device and make sure to take breaks from your gaming and screen time. You should stop gaming at least once an hour – get up, walk around and stretch your muscles for a few minutes.
- Strengthen your upper body. Exercises that strengthen your shoulders, back, and neck can help prevent gamer neck.
Using these techniques can help prevent strain on your neck. However, if you already have symptoms of tech or gamer’s neck, you may need to seek treatment for relief.
Gamer Neck Treatment
If you have ongoing neck pain from too much screen time, you should visit your primary care doctor or a sports medicine specialist. While gaming is not a physical sport, severe muscle strains are treated by sports medicine doctors and orthopedic specialists. Treatments for gamer neck may include:
- Massage therapy: Massaging the neck muscles can help improve circulation and reduce tension. Your doctor may recommend seeing a massage therapist that specializes in muscle strains.
- Heat therapy: Applying heat to the neck muscles can help relax the muscles and ease pain.
- Cold therapy: Using ice packs or cold compresses on the affected area can help reduce inflammation and pain.
- Pain relief medication: Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation.
- Physical therapy: Seeing a physical therapist can help strengthen the surrounding muscles and teach you proper gaming posture to prevent neck strain.
- Steroid injections: If you have trigger points or muscle spasms, steroid injections may help relieve pain from these conditions.
Your doctor will likely recommend taking a break from gaming until your condition subsides and seeking treatment for relieving pain and improving mobility . Using the preventive methods like proper gaming posture and stretching can help ensure the condition does not reoccur.
With so much time spent looking at screens, more and more people are prone to text, tech or gamer neck. Being aware of your screen-time or gamer posture and taking breaks is the best way to prevent gamer’s neck, but you should seek treatment if you have severe pain or other symptoms.
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