Average smartphone users have their phones in their hands for several hours a day - with some downtime in between. It is a common scenario for today’s generation to have their phones in easy access from sunup to sundown. However, frequent use of gadgets, smartphones included, increases the risk for painful hand injuries.
At present, phones and gadgets have evolved from the ancient rotary telephone to mobile computer that provides you with portable communication, entertainment, and organization needs. However, humans are yet to evolve to match the shape of today’s gadgets. Many people are now experiencing hand injuries due to repetitive stress injury when phones or gadgets are held in the wrong way. Medically, this injury is referred to as “stenosis tenosynovitis.” When not addressed early, the condition can worsen and serious problems like soreness of the muscles around the arm and tendinitis may also happen.
Common Symptoms of the High Tech Hand Injuries
There are several complaints that people tell their doctors when seeking treatment for hand injuries. Depending on the gadget being used and the frequency of the pain felt. For instance, the Blackberry thumb is a short-lived condition that “qwerty” phone users experience. It comes with symptoms like soreness of the ends of the thumbs, but it soon goes away when they stop using their phones.
On the other hand, a good number of patients still experience hand problems due to the overuse of thumbs. Some examples of injuries include the “Nintendo Thumb.” Other devices which are smaller may also require the use of smaller muscles and lead to more painful issues. The symptoms that come with thumb strain include pain, throbbing, tingling, and weakness.
The use of a computer mouse also leads to constant repetitive over-use of the muscles extending to the wrists. It can strain the tendons of the index finger as well as the wrists and the forearms. Injury to this part of the hand can lead to nerve irritation and repetitive strain.
Avoiding Hand Injuries
Gadget overuse can lead to wrist pain when the tendons connecting the fingers become sore at the wrist. The arms and the elbows can also become affected if it is not ergonomically positioned while you are using the phone or the computer. Some people overlook the symptoms, but the condition can worsen to the point that surgery is needed. Fortunately, you can effectively avoid these common hand injuries by following these tips.
- Don’t push too hard with your thumbs or fingers. When you push too hard on your phone, you are putting more pressure on the nerve.
- To prevent soreness of your thumb, you can use your nail to scroll instead of the thumb pad.
- When writing text messages or answering emails on your phone, keep it short and concise. Avoid writing a lot at one time. Ideally, do something different after 15 to 20 minutes spent poring over your phone.
- Use your other fingers to navigate your phone so that you can rest your thumbs.
- You may put your gadget on your briefcase or on your lap to support it.
- When holding your phone or gadgets, adopt a neutral hold and keep your wrist straight. A bent wrist can add strain to your hand.
- Allow hands to rest or switch activities to prevent repetitive motion injuries which is due to performing the same task for several hours.
- You may also switch hands as often as possible to distribute the stress on your two hands.
- When working, fix your posture and sit up straight. This will lessen the strain on your wrists and elbows.
Relieving Hand Pain Injury Due to Gadget Use
If you are experiencing pain or discomfort from constant use of your mobile phone, tablet or computer, you can do a bit of these suggestion to relieve the pain.
- Smartphone Stretching - flex your wrists tendons and hand muscles backward and forward whenever you take breaks from constant use of your gadgets.
- Apply Hot or Cold Compress - applying a hot compress will relax the muscles of your arm and help you move better. But for severe pain, use a cold compress to prevent it from swelling and numb the pain.
- Hand Massage - do this to break up the balled-up muscles in your wrist and arms. Doing this can also calm spasms and the tingling sensation in your hands.
- Explore hands-free features of your phone - if you are experiencing hand injuries due to constant use of your mobile but you still need to send messages, explore hands-free features such as voice-to-text modes, or ask for Siri or Alexa’s help.
When to Consult Your Doctor
When the pain, numbness, cramping, stiffness, and tingling sensation continue even after you stop and rest your hand, it might be best to seek professional help for your condition. If there are still symptoms even when you are at rest, you better ask some advice from a hand specialist or a Chiropractor to determine the range of your hand injury. Proper diagnosis is crucial for you to have the right treatment plan and prevent further damage to your hand.
You might have carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, tendonitis, or cubital tunnel syndrome along with the repetitive stress injury of your hands. If not addressed with the proper treatment, the damage can come debilitating and irreversible. You may be directed to undergo some laboratory tests and provide your doctor with a history of your injury. Treatment for severe conditions can include medications, immobilization, and surgery.
In this day and age, it is almost impossible not to use mobile phones, computers, and other high-tech gadgets for home and work. However, spending too much time on these can lead to tendon and muscle damage in your hand and arms. You have to make lifestyle adjustments and lessen the time you spend on your gadgets to save you from potential hand injuries. Following the tips provided can reduce pain and lower the risk of hand damage due to high-tech injuries. If the symptoms persist even when you are no longer using your phone, schedule an appointment with your health care professional or a reputable Chiropractor to have an assessment of your condition.