Cumulative trauma disorder (CTD), also known as repetitive stress injury (RSI) is an injury to the muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints that happens over time.

It occurs from overuse or doing something incorrectly, for example, using bad posture when working at your computer for hours or gripping and using your mouse, over and over again.

These are short duration activities that you think are no big deal. You say to yourself, I’m just doing this for a few minutes.

Often you don’t know it’s happening until it finally causes you discomfort, stiffness, pain, muscle weakness and for some numbness and tingling in the problem area.

If you are having numbness, tingling, problems with circulation and or a cold feeling in your hands and or fingers, or any unexplained pain you should consult your health care practitioner.

By the time you experience the symptoms it may already be a problem that may take some time to heal.

This situation can really cause a lot of disruption to your life.

This can become pain that limits: sports activities, carrying a baby, picking up a coffee cup and even sleeping!

Most people have heard of carpal tunnel syndrome, gamer’s thumb and tennis elbow. These are all examples of types of repetitive stress disorders.

Recently, there was an article in the Washington Post about the development of a horn at the back of the head. This could be associated to the repetitive posture of looking down at your mobile device, your laptop or your monitor.

This is really an ossifiication of the area where the stressed ligament, that runs along the back of the neck, attaches to the base of the skull.

You can see the spur on this X-Ray of a 28 year old, male. It is circled. It looks like a little hook.

Head and neck X-Ray of a 28 yo, male; showing a calcific spur at the external occipital protuberance.

There is another indirect consequence of Cumulative Trauma Disorder that is not talked about. Once you have developed a CTD, you are more prone to a greater injury if you experience another trauma or overdo it in another situation.

Let’s take another look at the X-Ray of the 28 year old male. He has lost the normal C-Curve in his neck. I have put in red lines to show how his curve is now going forward. This is called a flattening of the curve. It should actually go in the opposite direction, naturally.

If he experiences a rear-end collision in this state, he is at a greater risk for ligamentous injury and muscle strain.

Showing X-Ray of a 28 year old male with a calcification on his external occipital protuberance and a straightened neck curve.

Once you lose a normal spinal curve, you increase your risk for a greater injury to that area. For more information on the 3 curves of the spine download the free Your Guide To Neck And Shoulder Relief.

What can you do to help avoid these types of consequences?

  • Change your behavior.
  • Hold your phone up and closer to your face.
  • If you drop your head to look at your desk monitor, raise the monitor up. 
  • Make sure your workspace is set-up to properly fit your body.
  • Make sure the tools you are using are the right ones for you?
  • Practice self-care: heat, ice and stretch. (Consult your health care practitioner to make sure you can use heat and ice.)

Get more tips from my YouTube video, “How To Get Relief In Your Neck And Shoulders From Tech Neck.”


Cumulative trauma is real, but it is preventable.

You can make adjustments to your posture, how you move your body and to your workspace to avoid developing a problem.

Don’t forget your Free Guide: The 3 Best Stretches For Neck & Shoulder Relief