Smartphones have become so pervasive; it’s almost as if they are an extension of our bodies. With built-in fitness apps, instant access to personal social networks and support, and the ability to retrieve all the knowledge of the world wide web on demand, the health benefits of smartphones seem endless. Although these benefits are very real, there are also very real negative effects that come with excessive use of smartphones and other devices. Unsurprisingly, our hands receive the brunt of the wear and tear our bodies experience from constant texting, talking, searching, and all the other activities, so integral to our day-to-day life, that are carried out on these devices.
Here are some common orthopedic injuries and conditions that can result from unrestrained smartphone use. Although they certainly existed before smartphones and can have other causes, the incidence of many of these conditions have increased proportionally as smartphones have come into greater and greater use.
- “Text Claw.” Although this is not a formal diagnosis or condition, this term was coined to describe the pain and numbness in the hands and wrists experienced by frequent tech-users. Text claw might also be used to describe a condition called Cubital Tunnel Syndrome, in which numbness or cramping is experienced in the the ring and pinky fingers and hands.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Preliminary research indicates that there may be a link between smartphone use and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
- Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI). When muscles and joints are used excessively, particularly in awkward or unusual positions, repetitive stress injuries can result. Symptoms can include stiffness, pain, or aching in the hands or wrists.
Luckily, there is no need to throw your smartphone away to experience relief from these and other conditions related to smartphone use. Cutting back is never a bad idea, of course, and preventative measures, such as wrist stretching, can be taken to avoid an injury. If you are experiencing pain in the hands or wrists, an orthopedic specialist can help. Contact AOSMI today.