We spend a lot of time on our devices these days. Whether it’s a smartphone, tablet, or portable gaming system, there’s no doubt that some of us are obsessed with mobile technology (you’re probably even reading this on a smartphone right now). While quick access to information can be a great benefit, the staff at Resurgens Orthopaedics wants you to know your attachment to the virtual world may be causing health problems for you here in the real world. On this “National Day of Unplugging,” we’d like to share with you some information about painful orthopaedic conditions that can be caused by overuse of technology.
Have you ever heard of De Quervain Tenosynovitits? No? How about texting thumb? These are actually two names for the same condition, which is a form of repetitive strain injury thought to be caused by frequent texting or movement of the thumbs.
You see, the tendons that control your thumb’s movements travel through a tunnel in the wrist bones. When you move your thumb, this tendon can rub against the inside of the tunnel, causing it to become inflamed and painful. The more often you move your thumbs, the more likely you are to suffer from texting thumb. While most cases of this disorder are mild, it can progress to the point that it affects your ability to move your thumbs without significant pain.
If you’re experiencing pain in your thumbs and think it may be related to mobile device use, you might consider observing your very own day (or days) of unplugging to see if the condition improves. If you notice a difference after staying off your devices for a few days, it may be time to moderate your mobile device use in the future (or at the very least, try switching thumbs). Of course, if you have pain that affects your ability to perform everyday activities, it may be time to consult a doctor.
Tennis Elbow from Tablet Use
Doctors have reported an increase in reported elbow pain over the past ten years, and it isn’t because people are playing more tennis. Ergonomics experts and the medical community agree – this uptick in elbow pain is the result of increased tablet and smartphone use.
If you feel pain in the outer part of your elbow, weak grip strength, difficulty keeping your arm straight, or your elbow muscles twitch when your arm is still, you may be suffering from lateral epicondylitis, more commonly called tennis elbow. This condition is caused by overuse of the tendons that connect your forearm to the outside of the elbow. While it can be caused by tennis and other racquet sports, doctors are more likely to find a different cause these days – holding a tablet or smartphone for hours with a bent elbow.
Frequent tablet users may find relief from this condition by observing a day or two of unplugging but if the condition isn’t improved by moderating your electronics use, it may be time to see a doctor.
As is the case in most situations, moderation is key when it comes to preventing repetitive strain injuries related to electronics. When it comes to mitigating your addiction to electronic devices, the National Day of Unplugging is a good time to start. This global respite from technology starts at sundown on March 9th and lasts until sundown the following day, so we hope you’ll consider observing this holiday and putting down your electronic devices for a day, or perhaps longer if you choose!