Teck neck (sometimes referred to as text neck because of the prevalence of text messaging) can have many effects, one of which is TMD (temporomandibular joint disorder). TMD is characterized by jaw pain that may also radiate toward the ear and neck, loss of range of motion in the jaw, and a popping, clicking, or grinding sound accompanied by pain when opening or closing the jaw. How can this be the result of overuse or misuse of modern technology?
How Tech Neck Affects the Jaw
One factor that affects the posture of people the most in our modern times is the use of electronic devices. Whether one is hunched over a phone sending a text, leaning over a tablet to binge watch a show, or hunkered down in front of a computer screen all day at work, posture is being affected by our digital culture. When the head is leaned forward just 3 inches from being upright, it triples the amount of pressure on the neck and back. Since the head already weights 10-14 pounds, that’s a tremendous amount of strain.
When the neck moves out of alignment, this affects the jaw. Proper posture and neck alignment is vital to having all of the muscles and nerves in the face in jaw functioning properly. Without that, the results can be pain, restricted movement, and grinding of the joint. It’s no wonder TMD is often accompanied by neck pain.
Getting Help for TMD
While TMD may sometimes resolve naturally with rest and ice for any inflammation, it’s always a good idea to remove the underlying cause of the problem to limit the risk of its return. Correcting the upper neck misalignment can help to restore posture. It also requires some lifestyle adjustments to keep technology at eye level.
At work, see if you can have your monitor set at eye level or even get a standing desk. When using mobile devices for a long period of time, try to have them propped up in front of you rather than craning your neck. This will help prevent another misalignment and will help upper cervical adjustments to last longer, giving your body more time to heal.