scorecardBeware! Excessive use of mobile phones may lead to arthritis
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Beware! Excessive use of mobile phones may lead to arthritis

Beware! Excessive use of mobile phones may lead to arthritis
LifeScience2 min read
Do you feel pain in your thumb, fingers or wrist after texting or playing a game on your mobile phone? Well, there are chances that you have torn tendon of your thumb. Not only this, in worst case scenario, you may even end up having arthritis.

Recently, a California-based 29-year-old man tore tendon on his thumb while playing Candy Crush game on his smartphone all day for more than six days.

Doctors say with increased use of mobilephones, people are becoming vulnerable to stress related injuries. ‘Smartphone thumb of Blackberry thumb’ is a phrase that is used to describe the pain in the thumb after overuse of the smartphone.

“It is a repetitive stress injury which results in pain when the wrist or thumb is bent towards the little finger. Also there may be a dull ache in the base of the thumb and snapping each time the patient bends and straightens the thumb. The causes of this are that the keyboard is little and the hands are doing two things together i.e. holding the phone as well as typing in the awkward position. These stresses lead to early wear, tear, and degeneration,” said Dr Akash Sabharwal, consultant, Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, Moolchand Orthopaedics Hospital.

The tendons of the thumb are under maximum stress, which leads to tendinitis or tenosynovitis (inflammation in the tendon sheath). Repetitive stress can lead to arthritis in the long.

Dr Sabharwal said, the problem is mostly seen in younger people, and is spreading among teenagers also as they spend much time on phones these days.

“I receive about four to five cases per week where the symptoms in the thumb and wrists are primarily related to smartphone or tablet usage in excess. Repetitive stress can lead to arthritis in the long term specially affecting the small joints of the thumb,” he informed.

Not only thumb, but pain in other body parts like elbows and shoulders can also arise. “Long term effects of radiation waves on the brain are well known. The federal communications commission (FCC) has suggested to keep a distance of minimum 20cms to reduce radiation exposure. Eye vision problems as screens are small sized and staring at screens causes strain on the eyes,” said Dr Sabharwal.

Another common practice that people have is holding their phones while walking. This also increases pain in their wrist. The repetitive stress on wrist can also lead to irreparable damage.

Meanwhile, doctors say that limited use of phones and using a regular sized keypad can minimise the pain and stress-related injury.

“Hold phone with one hand and use the other hand index finger for typing rather than your thumb. Take intermittent breaks if you feel the discomfort and gentle stretching of the fingers and thumbs intermittently will also help,” suggested Dr Sabharwal.

One can also use headsets, if you are on a call for long hours and in case of chronic pain, seek help from an upper limb orthopaedic expert.

(Image: Thinkstock)