Cell phones have forged their way into every aspect of our lives, but they could also be the culprit of many common conditions. The average cell phone user holds their cell phone from the moment they wake up, until the moment they go to bed with little down time in between. Spending multiple hours a day on your phone places unnatural and repetitive stress on your joints and muscles. The most common cell phone induced injuries include:
Trigger Thumb (de Quervain Tensosynovitis)
This is a repetitive motion injury to the tendons that comes from swiping and texting all day long. Tendons are strong bands of tissue that connect muscles to bones. Repetitive movements can cause inflammation around the lining of the tendons, which is a condition called tenosynovitis. If the tendon doesn’t glide smoothly, it can cause pain, clicking, or popping. Overuse injuries also tend to aggravate other existing conditions, like arthritis, and can take longer for relief to come.
iPad Pinky (Dupuytren’s Disease)
This condition affects the fibrous layer of tissue that lies under the skin. In this condition, the fascia thickens and tightens over time, which causes the fingers to be pulled in towards the palm. Over time, there is a risk of nerve compression which can cause numbness or tingling in the pinky.
Smartphone Elbow (Cubital Tunnel Syndrome)
Cubital Tunnel Syndrome is a cumulative traction/compression injury to your ulnar nerve that occurs when you bend your elbow too frequently beyond 90 degrees. This nerve travels from your neck, down your arm, and around the bony part of your elbow and eventually reaches your pinky finger. At your elbow, it passes through the opening called the cubital tunnel. Keeping your elbow bent causes an over stretch and places pressure on the ulnar nerve, which could lead to long-term nerve damage.
Text neck is also a repetitive strain injury which occurs from hunching over your cell phone. The average head weighs 11lbs, balancing on 7 vertebrae, and supported by 20 different muscles. However, the more you look down, the more strain you put on your neck which equate to 50lbs of strain on your neck. Because the neck is not meant to withstand this amount of force, pain, decreased mobility, muscle soreness, and headaches are common by the end of the day.
Cell phone, laptop, tablet, anything with a screen can cause eye strain. The many hours of looking at a bright screen can dry out your eyes and lead to blurred vision and headaches.
WHAT YOU CAN DO AT HOME
So, we’ve gone through what can happen with too much cell phone use, but what do we do about it? Besides putting your phone down for a few minutes each hour, there are ways to prevent these common cell phone injuries. To minimize neck strain, sit against the wall with your back flat and knees bent. Next, use your knee to support your phone up to eye level. Make sure to keep your wrists straight and minimize the amount of movements with one thumb. Alternating which thumb you use is a great way to even out the amount of repetitive movements. At the end of the day, do some wrist rolls. Roll your wrist in both directions to improve mobility and decrease pain. Lastly, ice or heat can be your best friend when you know which one to use! If the pain is recent, as in it just started less than 3 days ago, ice is best to reduce inflammation. If the pain still continues, the switch to heat will help more to keep the tendons mobile.
HOW CHIROPRACTIC CAN HELP
Adjustments! The bread and butter that is chiropractic. After a history and exam, our Chiropractors will determine where the problem is coming from and what could benefit from an adjustment. This could include your neck, shoulder, elbow, wrist, hand, and fingers.
Kinesio tape: This stylish tape is a stretchy, moveable tape that is best when you need to maintain range of motion but want additional support. There are multiple ways the tape can be applied, but all will take pressure off of the wrist and help with normal movement and decrease inflammation. The decreased inflammation with added support will decrease the pain.
Massage: After a long day of texting, your arm muscles can get sore. Our licensed massage therapists will know which muscles to target and work through any soreness to get your wrists and neck back in tip top shape.
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Tegtmeier, Patricia. ‘A Scoping Review on Smart Mobile Devices and Physical Strain’. 1 Jan. 2018 : 273 – 283.