Is your phone causing hand and arm pain?
Many of us use our smartphones constantly throughout the day – from waking up in the morning to streaming a movie while falling asleep in bed. Orthopedic surgeon Ryan Zitzke, MD, said overusing these devices can cause musculoskeletal issues in the arm and hand.
For instance, he said keeping your arm bent for a prolonged period of time while holding a phone can result in irritation to the nerves and tendons surrounding your elbow. The repetitive motion from texting or using a digital keyboard can cause pain and swelling in the tendons in your wrist and hand.
“Occasionally one may experience numbness and tingling in their fingers which could be caused by swelling around a nerve at the wrist or elbow,” said Dr. Zitzke. “If these symptoms occur, it is important to address them before they become chronic.”
Dr. Zitzke said you can relieve these symptoms – or prevent them in the first place – by making a few behavior changes.
- Use voice to text features found on most devices
- Use hands-free features such as Bluetooth headphones
- Use short hand while texting
- Take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications
- Rest your phone on a table
- Take frequent breaks
“If the symptoms continue despite modifying how you use your device, it is important to be evaluated by a specialist,” said Dr. Zitzke. “Most of the conditions can be diagnosed in the office and treated with a variety of modalities including bracing, therapy or injections. Surgery is the last resort and is unlikely needed in the majority of the overuse conditions directly related to mobile devices.”
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