Health professionals say they’re having greater numbers of patients before with joint and muscle pain in their necks, hands shoulders, upper backs and shoulders and that mobile phones could be playing a role in.

A couple of years back my friend from college texted me to tell me that she was concerned about her texts. Her fingers and hands were aching throughout the day and the pain grew worse when she used her phone. Perhaps our constant texting on politics and parenting could be to blame?

There’s still not much research regarding the impact that the use of smartphones has on our bodies. “We aren’t sure,” said Jessica B. Schwartz who is an acupuncturist based in New York and a spokeswoman for the American Physical Therapy Association. But the doctors I spoke to said that they saw many more people than they have ever before with discomfort in joints and soft tissue issues like tendinitis on their thumbs, fingers and wrists as well as elbows, wrists shoulders, necks and backs. They also said mobile phones were likely to be a factor in.

When we text our friends or browse the web on our phones, we typically make use of our joints and muscles in ways that stress them as the doctor. Schwartz said. The way we look on our smartphones, and carrying them around while our wrists are flexed when we scroll or type requires our joints and muscles perform tasks they did not develop to do: remain in the same spot all day long put on too much weight , and perform a variety of movements over a narrow range of movement.

These movements and positions can cause “undue stress” on muscles, joints and ligaments, as well as tendons “that don’t have the capacity to being in this position for that length of time,” said Dr. Renee Enriquez, a physical rehabilitation and medicine expert within UT Southwestern Medical Center. In time, these movements could cause inflammation, which can lead to pain, and possibly other issues according to her.

Doctors aren’t all aware of the risks. When my friend visited her doctor regarding discomfort in her hand, she had scans, X-rays, and blood tests and was told she did not have arthritis. If she asked if your smartphone might be the cause of the discomfort, the doctor told her it wasn’t likely. Then she saw a different doctor, who was able to rule out carpal tunnel syndrome, and finally , an orthopedic hand specialist who laughed and denied the claim when she asked – again to know if her phone could be contributing to her pain.

But it is true that Dr. Schwartz said that my friend’s symptoms were consistent with tendinitisinflammation of the thick cords known as tendons that join muscles to bones or tenosynovitis, an inflammation of the sheath’s lining which surrounds the tendon. There is a link between tenosynovitis of the thumb, also known as De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis to frequent use of smartphones. The use of smartphones can also aggravate symptoms for those who have arthritis. She informed me that even though the so-called smartphone pinkie isn’t a medical condition however, using your pinkie to help hold the load of your smartphone can cause issues over time.

Additionally, aches can be caused by the inflammation of joints, ligaments muscles, tendons, muscles and their sheaths, users are prone to acute smartphone injuries. Doctor. Jennifer Moriatis Wolf, an orthopedic hand surgeon at the University of Chicago Medicine, has said she’s witnessed patients strain their thumbs when they held their phones with such force.

The constant use of phones can influence our nerves. If we keep phones in front of us while our elbows are bent, they compress the nerve called the ulnar nerve that is a nerve that runs from the neck down towards the palm. The constriction could cause weakness and numbness in the fingers of the pinky and ring, the doctor. Schwartz said.

In general, when ligaments, muscles or tendons get inflamed by phone usage, they may expand, which can irritate the nerves running through them and causes the sensation of numbness or pain in the hands, Dr. Enriquez said. Smartphone use can cause an increase in existing nerve issues, like carpal tunnel syndrome, Dr. Wolf added. Also, there’s the strain phones can place on our eyes, and the disruption blue light could create for our sleep cycles.

“Text neck” is a different term that you’ve encountered. Take a look at what happens when sit down to check your phone. Compared to standing up straight in a bent-over posture, this position can increase the strain upon your neck muscle as well as cervical spine by the number of times between four and five according to the Dr. Jason M. Cuellar who is one of the orthopaedic spine expert who works at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and JFK North Hospital in West Palm Beach, Fla. The force that is exerted could, he added, cause ligaments to weaken within the spinal column and lead to discomfort. A 2017 study revealed an association between texting and the long-term occurrence of shoulder, neck and upper back discomfort, but other studies haven’t found any connection.

In the cervical vertebrae of certain youngsters the doctor. Cuellar sees are also bent in unusual ways. This may be due to the use of smartphones frequently as well, he added that it may also increase the chance of back issues. “What we’re thinking that this can do is cause an acceleration of disc degeneration,” he said, in reference to the degeneration of spinal discs, the small shock absorbers that are placed between the vertebrae, helping us move in a comfortable manner. “We’re seeing more people younger who are in their 20s and typically in their 30s, with cervical spine issues.”

What do you do if your smartphone is making you feel painor you’re concerned that it might cause you pain in the future? My friend’s doctor snubbed the notion that her phone was a factor in her hands hurting She eventually tossed out her big phone and got smaller ones to see if it would aid. She also started using a voice-to-text feature to ease the pressure on her hands. Her pain quickly dissipated.

The Dr. Schwartz agreed that downsizing to a lighter, smaller phone is a great option if you have hand-sized fingers and believes the voice-to-text feature can reduce pain by lessening stress on your hands. Dr. Enriquez recommended phone grips and stands such as those offered from PopSocket and Moft as well, which could alleviate a lot of the pressure of holding a phone off your fingers and thumbs. The Dr. Cuellar said it could be beneficial to have an accessory that keeps your phone up to your eye which means you don’t have to strain your neck to look at it.

If you’re feeling lots of pain, it’s a wise idea to visit an occupational therapist or physician, like an orthopedist or medical specialist, since they’ll be able to prescribe treatments and stretches according to said Dr. Schwartz said. “If you recognize these problems early, they are less likely to get worse,” she said.

However when something is causing pain to you, the most effective answer is simply to not do it too often. Also, Doctor. Wolf said, “the most effective advice is to Take your phone off the table.”

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