April 13, 2020 at 7:38 pm · drsahai · 0 comments
Many people don’t realize, but too much smartphone use can lead to wrist problems, including carpal tunnel syndrome. And scrolling, swiping, and tapping can all cause this painful wrist condition.
The carpal tunnel is a narrow pathway of bone and ligament. Its located at the base of the hand. It contains tendons that allow you to bend your fingers. The median nerve is also in this area. This nerve runs from the forearm to the palm. Therefore, providing feeling to some fingers.
Repeated pressure at this point can cause carpal tunnel to develop. The median nerve becomes compressed as it passes into the hand. And the angle of your wrist when holding a device causes this pressure.
Additionally, an awkward movement such as typing can cause this. The result is often pain, finger tingling, and weakened grip. However, this pain can sometimes radiate up the arm too.
What the Studies Say
A link between the risk of wrist problems and extended smartphone use exists. However, studies cannot prove that using a smart device can cause carpal tunnel. Studies have also only used subjects that use these devices heavily. And this is not accurate to how people in real life use them.
Despite this, experts still recommend using caution. Doing so will reduce the chance you have of developing carpal tunnel syndrome. Peter White, an assistant health technology professor, repeated earlier studies.
He first divided subjects into two groups. The first group was of intensive users, who logged five or more hours of device use each day. Non-intensive users, however, logged less than five hours. Phones, tablets, and game consoles were all considered hand-held devices. And wrist Ultrasounds were then performed.
The results were as follows:
- 54 percent of intensive users reported musculoskeletal pain
- 12 percent of the non-intensive users had reported pain
The research also found that intensive users had more severe pain in their wrists and hands. The more you use a hand-held device, the more risk you are in for pain. As extensive use continues, the more severe and longer-lasting it becomes.
The motions used when holding a device are the cause of this pain. Those motions are as follows: swiping, scrolling, and pressing. All require constant use of fingers. And this enlarges and flattens the median nerve. The more the nerve flattens, however, the more damage and swelling occurs.
What You Can Do
There appears to be a correlation between heavy hand-held device use and carpal tunnel. Being on your smartphone continually may not cause the condition. But, it does increase your risk of developing wrist pain.
Furthermore, something about the way you use hand-held devices matters. Specialists agree that the position of your hand and fingers on these devices are not natural. And as a result of compression, the feelings in your hand change.
The studies involved excessive use of hand-held devices. It is important to note, on average, people do not use their smartphones that much. The results from these studies likely apply only to only a small percentage of people.
However, to reduce the risk of carpal tunnel, you need to keep your wrist straight. Any time you use a hand-held device, keep a straight wrist. Therefore, you need to minimize the repetitive movements of your fingers. Take regular rest breaks to break up continuous use.