Smartphones – we hear a lot about how these handy devices can go wherever we go. They keep us informed, entertained and connected. We love them, but according to Louisiana orthopedic specialists, these smartphones can create problems for your fingers, hands, and elbows.
Is “Smartphone Elbow” a Real Thing?
It’s more about how you hold your smartphone and how often you use it that puts a strain on your tendons and nerves.
Smartphone elbowis not a new phenomenon, and it’s certainly not confined to smartphone use. It affects the funny bone nerve, which runs through a small trench located on the inner elbow. Symptoms of this disorder include numbness and tingling in the fourth and fifth finger of the affected arm. You may also notice pain in your forearm and weakness in your hand.
According to Louisiana orthopedic specialists, this condition occurs when pressure at the elbow causes irritation, inflammation, and compression of the ulnar nerve. Phone activity that can irritate the nerve include bending your elbow sharply for long periods as you hold a phone or resting your elbows on a desk, the arm of a chair, or other hard surfaces as you text, game or talk.
You can lessen or even prevent smartphone elbow by changing your phone habits. Try a hands-free headsetor switch your phone from hand-to-hand during conversations and avoid positions that require you to rest your elbows on hard surfaces when using your phone.
Give Your Thumbs a Rest
Thumbs are vital to the human anatomyfor grasping and pinching, but they’re simply not designed to move with the same grace and flexibility as the rest of your fingers. The demands placed on your thumb tendons and muscles with heavy texting can cause micro-tears in these soft tissue structures. Louisiana orthopedic specialists find that this can often lead to pain, swelling, and stiffness in the thumb and the structures in the palm that control your its movement.
Give your thumbs a rest by using an external keyboard that gets all your fingers involved when you’re texting from home. While it may slow you down at first, try texting with your index fingers or consider using a voice-to-text app whenever possible.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome And Smartphones
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) progresses from compression of the median nerve, which runs through a narrow opening on the palm side of your carpal tunnel. Symptoms include pain in the hand, numbness and tingling in your fingers that often gets worse at night; and weakness in your grip strength.
Louisiana orthopedic specialists typically recommend nonsurgical treatments for CTS that include bracing to keep the wrist from bending up or down, steroid injections to reduce swelling, and exercises that reduce the stress on the affected nerve. Useful steps to take at home include decreasing phone time and other activities that worsen symptoms.
If you have tingling, numbness, discomfort or weakness in your upper extremities, you don’t have to live with it, regardless of what’s causing the symptoms. We have highly-skilled Louisiana orthopedic specialists on staff who focuson issues and treatments related to your hands, fingers, elbows and wrists. Call us today to schedule a consultation.