With video games more popular than ever, “gamer neck” is becoming an increasingly common complaint. The habit of sitting hunched over a TV or computer screen for hours on end can put significant strain on the neck muscles and spine, leading to pain, stiffness, headaches, and other issues. But can seeing a chiropractor help resolve gamer neck? Let’s take a closer look.
What Is Gamer Neck?
Gamer neck refers to the all-too-common posture formed by gamers during lengthy gaming sessions: head forward and down, shoulders hunched. This posture puts extra pressure on the neck while the head’s center of gravity shifts forward. With the head weighing 10-12 pounds on average, more weight bears down on the cervical spine. Over time, the muscles must remain contracted to support the head. This can lead to muscle strain, disc compression, arthritis, pinched nerves, and more.
The culprit behind gamer neck is prolonged poor posture more than gaming itself. But gamers engaged in multi-hour sessions may unconsciously maintain these neck-straining postures for long periods. Fatigue sets in, pain flares up, and gamer neck complaints accumulate. Continuous texting on phones or other handheld devices produces similar issues.
How Can Chiropractors Help?
Chiropractors focus on the health of the spine as it relates to other areas of the body. Through spinal manipulations, chiropractic adjustments, and related techniques, they aim to improve spinal alignment. In turn, this helps alleviate nerve interference, restore mobility, ease muscle tension, and manage pain.
For gamer neck issues, a chiropractor would evaluate neck mobility, check for muscle tightness, gently move vertebrae, and use other hands-on approaches. While results vary, these treatments may provide several potential benefits:
- Reduce inflammation around joints and tissues
- Loosen tight neck muscles pulling vertebrae out of place
- Improve spinal alignment and mobility
- Take pressure off compressed discs and nerves
- Increase blood flow and oxygen to tense neck muscles
- Relieve muscle tension headaches and pain
- Restore range of motion
Some chiropractors may also recommend at-home stretches, ergonomic advice, posture correction exercises, or spinal decompression. This expands the treatment plan beyond the chiropractor’s office.
Are Chiropractors Effective for Gamer Neck?
Studies examining chiropractic care specifically for gamer neck are limited. However, research on chiropractic treatment for general neck pain offers promising evidence:
- One study found 72% of patients experienced reduced neck pain intensity after 12 weeks of chiropractic care. Mobility also increased.
- Another study reported over 90% of patients had less neck pain or disability after 7 weeks of chiropractic treatment. Effects lasted at least a year for most.
- Research reviews report beneficial effects from spinal manipulation for chronic neck pain. Results included reduced pain, improved function, and increased quality of life.
While more research is needed, these studies suggest chiropractic adjustments may relieve neck pain from posture-induced issues like gamer neck. The hands-on approach helps address joint dysfunction, muscle tightness, and more not easily treated through other methods.
Chiropractors can also guide necessary changes to your daily routine and gaming setup. Advice may cover optimal monitor placement, ideal seating position, regular stretch breaks, and more. Combining these ergonomic changes with chiropractic therapy provides a well-rounded treatment plan.
Are There Risks to Chiropractic Adjustments?
Chiropractic care is generally considered safe when performed by a licensed professional. Serious complications are rare. Minor side effects like temporary soreness do sometimes occur.
However, there are certain risk factors to consider:
- Patients with osteoporosis or spinal joint instability are more vulnerable to injury from adjustments. The same is true for those with spinal joint replacements or fusion surgeries.
- Forceful neck manipulations have been linked to arterial tears or strokes in very rare cases.
- Disc herniations, although uncommon, have been reported following some chiropractic treatments.
Reputable chiropractors screen for red flags before administering therapy. They tailor treatments to each patient while avoiding risky maneuvers. Discuss any concerns and clarify your treatment plan upfront. Staying within your comfort zone is key.
Integrating Chiropractic Care Into Your Routine
Chiropractic therapy aims for gradual, cumulative effects through ongoing care. Most gamers need consistent treatments over 4-8 weeks before noticing substantial changes in pain levels or mobility. After this initial period, maintenance appointments every few weeks or months help sustain improvements.
Be sure to communicate regularly with your chiropractor. Update them on any changes in your symptoms so they can adjust treatments accordingly. And don’t stop those all-important ergonomic, postural, and stretching habits when away from the chiropractic office. Consistency both in and out of appointments gives chiropractic care the best chance to ease your gamer neck woes.