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Cell Phone Elbow – 2 Steps to Staying Connected Without Pain

01 Jan Cell Phone Elbow – 2 Steps to Staying Connected Without Pain

Are you a talker or a texter?

Chances are, you’re one or the other. Or both. According to The International Association for the Wireless Telecommunications Industry, nearly 90% of all Americans own a cell phone. At the beginning of this millennium, that number was only 40%. More of us are using cell phones, and we’re using them more and more often. Together, we spend about 2.2 trillion minutes per year on the phone. That’s trillion with a T. And we send about one trillion text messages.

High-tech devices cause chronic pain

All this talking and texting have led to a rash of repetitive strain injuries (RSI) with high-tech names: cell phone elbow, BlackBerry thumb, iPod finger, Nintendo-nitis to name a few. All of these ailments have much in common with carpal tunnel syndrome, the bane of office workers everywhere. The high-tech demographics skew younger. Even some elementary school children complain of tingling or pain in their fingers and arms!

What is a repetitive stress injury?

Repetitive stress injuries, or repetitive motion disorders, are caused when an unnatural or awkward body movement compresses soft tissue such as nerves, tendons, and muscles. For example, the elbow is really only meant to bend momentarily. You pick something up, you put it down, end of story. That’s not how we function in today’s world. During a cell phone conversation, you might keep your elbow bent for a long time, placing continuous stress on the ulnar nerve. This can result in cubital tunnel syndrome, or cell phone elbow.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, these disorders “are characterized by pain, tingling, numbness, visible swelling or redness of the affected area, and the loss of flexibility and strength. For some individuals, there may be no visible sign of injury, although they may find it hard to perform easy tasks.” If this describes you, then you may be suffering from an RSI.

Two easy steps to relieve your pain

  1. Visit your chiropractor – Every nerve in your body is linked to the central nervous system. Chiropractors understand that when a patient feels pain or tingling in the extremities, the first place to look is the spine. In the lower to mid cervical spine area of the neck is where the roots of the nerves in your hands and arms originate. Through a series of gentle manipulations, your chiropractor will relieve the pressure on these nerve roots, which will lead to relief from the pain. Your chiropractor will also adjust other areas of the body as needed, such as your wrists and arms. You’ll be amazed by how great you feel!
  2. Stop what you’re doing – You’re not going to stop talking or texting. Cell phones are part of your life now, and you’re addicted. I understand. In fact, I share your addiction. But you stay connected to the world without continuing to move in ways that hurt you. For example, you can get a headset that will allow you to keep your arms in a natural position while you talk. Or you can use something to help take pressure off your thumbs and fingers while you’re sending those oh-so-important text messages. Your cell phone provider or electronics store will be able to give you some ideas that should help.

You don’t have to eschew technology to live a healthy, pain-free life. With these two simple steps, you can stay connected to the modern world while disconnecting yourself from the plague of chronic pain.

By Dr. Eric Murphy

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