Hand Doctors are Seeing Pain & Injury from Tech Usage
With everyone relying on technology to communicate and tele-commute during the pandemic, everyone is spending much more time on their computers, phones and electronic devices. As a result, hand doctors are an seeing an increase in hand, wrist, and elbow disorders resulting from the repetitive motions and poor posture caused by texting, emailing, and using the Internet on your smartphone and computer.
If you are suddenly experiencing pain, numbness, stiffness, or tingling in your hand, fingers, arm or wrist, it may be a symptom of a disorder caused by tech usage. In this article Bloomfield Hills hand doctor Uzma Rehman discusses four hand conditions that can be caused or aggravated by excessive or repetitive cell phone and computer usage.
Injuries Hand Doctors See from Tech Usage
De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis
Using your thumbs too much to text or type on your phone can cause De Quervain’s tenosynovitis. This is a condition in which strain or overuse injures the tendons that run from the wrist to the thumb. The primary symptom of De Quervain’s tenosynovitis that hand doctors see is pain on the thumb side of the wrist. The pain can appear gradually or suddenly – and can move up the forearm.
Pushing keyboard keys, or tapping your phone, too hard with your fingers can lead to a condition called Stenosing Tenosynovitis – commonly known as “trigger finger”. In this condition, inflammation occurs around the tendons and pulleys that enable the fingers to bend. Symptoms may include pain, joint popping, and a feeling that the finger is “locked” when you try to bend or straighten it.
Hand doctors also note that the repetitive motions of texting and typing can aggravate underlying osteoarthritis – which is a wearing away of cartilage in the joints. While tech usage does not cause osteoarthritis, it can increase your pain or other symptoms.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Typing on a laptop or desktop keyboard can also cause or exacerbate Carpal Tunnel Syndrome—a condition in which the median nerve is compressed as it passes through a small area at the wrist known as the carpal tunnel. Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can include pain, tingling, and numbness in the thumb, index finger, middle finger, and inner half of the ring finger (but not the pinky finger).
Hand doctors also note that extensive looking down at an electronic device – such as a tablet or phone – can lead to neck and back pain. This is because you are stretching the muscles, ligaments, and tendons in your neck and upper back. It can also irritate the occipital nerve where the spine connects to the base of the skull, causing headaches.
Hand Doctors Tips for Safe Tech Usage
If you are experiencing pain, numbness or tingling from tech usage, Hand Doctors recommend that you take frequent breaks. Can also try to modify the way you use electronic devices. For example, if texting with your thumbs causes pain, you may need to use your fingers or a stylus. You can also try to use voice commands whenever possible.
Short-term use of over-the-counter painkillers, such as ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol), as well as exercises to stretch the tendons, may also help.
In more severe cases, your hand doctor may recommend splinting, and in some cases steroid injections.
To relieve back and neck pain, adjust your posture when using your phone to keep your line of vision parallel to the floor rather than downward.
Top Hand Doctor Bloomfield Hills
If you are experiencing hand, wrist or finger problems – including pain, numbness, stiffness or tingling, contact Bloomfield Hills board certified hand surgeon Doctor Rehman, for a comprehensive evaluation and consultation. As with most medical conditions, early detection, awareness, and a prevention or treatment plan is the most effective way to combat the effects of medical conditions of the hand and wrist.