Can you live without your smartphone? I guess most people would say no. Me neither. Actually, according to a survey, nearly half of all US adults give a negative answer to the question. But as you may have noticed, these tech things are bringing you pain and gain together.
Tech-related injuries are not uncommon nowadays, such as “swiper’s thumb,” “text neck” or “sefie elbow.” These conditions often occur when people use electronic devices too often or use them the wrong way.
“Most (of these conditions) can be solved by listening to your body and improving your posture,” said neurosurgeon Dr. Gregory Thompson at Penn State Health St. Joseph. In fact, the strains and overuse injuries are usually caused by a long last uncomfortable position.
“Swiper’s thumb” and “iPad hand” are both overuse injuries. They're almost all a type of tendonitis. "Often, we find it's De Quervain's tenosynovitis, an inflammation of the tendons that abduct the thumb," Dr. Michael Darowish, an orthopedic surgeon, said. "Pregnant women and parents who often lift their young kids are prone to it, too.”
Rest, anti-inflammatory medications and activity modification can ease the pain. Severe cases may require cortisone injections, bracing or even surgery to calm the inflamed tendons – well, try not to make it that severe by spending less time on those uncomfortable conditions.
“Cellphone elbow” is likely cubital tunnel syndrome, irritation of the ulnar nerve that runs from the elbow to the small finger. Common symptoms include numbness in the ring and small fingers and needing to shake out the hand. More severe symptoms include clumsiness and dropping things.
In most cases, changing your body position will ease the symptoms. For example, try to sit at a proper distance from the computer, and don’t make your wrists too flexed or extended.
Other treatments include rest, anti-inflammatories and wrapping the elbow in a towel at night to prevent ulnar nerve irritation while sleeping.
“Text neck” happens when people hover over a laptop or phone and experience neck spasms due to poor posture. You may also experience tension headaches or grating or cracking of the neck.
Rest, exercise, and anti-inflammatory medications are the first line of defense. "Take the neck through a gentle range of motion by bending the head forward, backward, and turning side to side," Thompson said. For more severe conditions, you should see a physician, he added.
Rest more and do some stretch after you’ve used your computer or phone for some time. The tech-related injuries can be reduced or prevented.