Tech Neck, Texting Thumb, Tablet Elbow … Conditions Caused by the Overuse of Technology

July 12, 2018 | By: Raleigh Orthopaedic Team

With technology usage on the rise, and as you scroll through your email, your contacts and your social media accounts, you might find yourself experiencing some pain. Below are some of the most common conditions that result from extended periods of screen time.

Tech Neck

Tech neck is a term used to describe neck and spine pain directly related to technology use. It is caused by prolonged periods of hunching over your screens resulting in minor stiffness or pain in your neck and tension in your shoulders. The greater the degree you are looking downward, the more weight your head puts on your spine, which causes pain.

To avoid tech neck:

  • Limit how long you use your device
  • Look up from your screen frequently and take regular breaks
  • Maintain good posture, keeping the back well-aligned, your shoulders relaxed and the neck positioned over the body
  • Move your screen directly in front of you so you are not looking down
  • Stretch and strengthen the neck to improve your posture

Texting Thumb

Texting thumb (also known as DeQuervain Tenosynovitis) is a repetitive stress injury that affects both your thumb and wrist. It is caused by too much gripping, tapping and swiping. The friction and fatigue causes inflammation, which results in aching, cramping and throbbing in the area.

To avoid texting thumb:

  • Take breaks from your device
  • Switch hands often to avoid relying on one hand to do all the work
  • Keep your messages shorter to minimize the strain on the hands and wrist
  • Take advantage of the voice-to-text feature
  • Stretch your hands, fingers, wrist and forearms to keep your tendons nimble

Tablet Elbow

Tablet Elbow (also known as Tennis Elbow or lateral epicondylitis) is a condition that involves the inflammation of tendons that join the forearm muscles on the outside of the elbow, caused by repetitive motion. While it can be caused by tennis and other racquet sports, is now known also be caused by holding a tablet or smartphone for hours with a bent elbow.

  • Limit how long you are holding your device
  • Move the arm and elbow carefully to break up the stiffness and resolve symptoms
  • Purchase a cover that can also tilt vertically so its supported without having to hold it continuously
  • Do exercises to strengthening the muscles of the forearm


Dr. Jaime Pedraza

About the Author

This article was written by Jaime Pedraza, M.D. Dr. Pedraza is a Primary Care Sports Medicine Physician specializing in Non-Surgical Orthopaedics, including sports medicine, non-operative fracture care, arthritis, sports injuries, concussion management and most musculoskeletal injuries. In addition, Dr. Pedraza serves as the Head Team Physician for Southeast Raleigh High School.