From Text Neck To Nintendo Thumb: 5 Injuries For The Modern Era
WhatsAppitis. Selfie elbow. iPad Shoulder.
They’re all injuries caused by our hapless addiction to hand-held technology. We see patients every day at Ascent Chiropractic with repetitive stress injuries due to gadget overuse, so if you’re being affected by these modern-day ailments, don’t worry – you’re not alone!
1. Text Neck
Checking your phone too frequently can be a real pain in the neck.
We love texting: the average American sends between 250 and 2,000 texts per month. That’s nearly 70 messages a day at the high end of the range.
Even when not texting, we’re still spending a ton of time looking down at our phones for other reasons, from checking Facebook to watching YouTube videos to trading stocks. All this looking down is bad news for your neck.
Your head weighs between 10-12 pounds, but the pressure placed on your neck can be ratcheted up to 60 pounds due to the effect of gravity when you bend it to look down at your smartphone. And as you might guess, this act of hunching over our phones for most of our waking hours can cause some negative side effects.
The range of problems that develop based on chronic smartphone overuse is called “text neck”, and can include pain in the neck and upper shoulders, headaches, and a change in the curve of the neck. It can also lead to chronic injuries that get worse over time, such as:
- Cervical Disc Degeneration
- Muscle strain
- Pinched nerves
2. WhatsAppitis (aka Nintendo Thumb)
WhatsAppitis – which has also been called Nintendo Thumb, SMS Syndrome and Gamer’s Thumb – is such a prevalent problem among teens and young adults that it has been covered everywhere from Wired to Consumer Reports. WhatsAppitis is a repetitive strain injury, similar to carpal tunnel syndrome, that results in swelling, pain, and numbness at the base of the thumb.
Thumbs are the least flexible part of our hands, and there is a reason we only use them to hit the space bar on an actual keyboard. The thumb is really designed as a stabilizer for pinch gripping with a finger. It’s the fingers that have dexterity, not the thumb. So if you’re trying to type a novel with your thumbs, you’re going to have a problem.
WhatsAppitis is really just a new, hip rebranding of a classic overuse injury: DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis, also known as washerwoman’s sprain.
3. Selfie Elbow
You get golfer’s elbow from playing too much golf and you get selfie elbow – you guessed it – from taking too many selfies.
To get a selfie, you’re usually extending your arm as far out as you can to get everything into your picture. This motion causes your elbow to lock, your wrist to contort, and puts strain on your forearm muscles. All of this can result in trauma to the tendon that connects to the lateral elbow joint.
Selfie elbow is actually identical to an injury called tennis elbow – here’s how to fix it.
4. iPad Shoulder
iPhone injuries? Pssh. These days, the truly elite suffer from iPad Shoulder. Because it can be used for everything from watching movies to reading books to taking class notes, some people spend even more time hunched over their tablet than their phone.
The resulting pain is bad enough that it warranted a study by a group of researchers at Harvard University, whose results were published in the the journal Work: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment, and Rehabilitation. The researchers had study participants do a variety of everyday tasks on their tablets, then measured their postures with an infrared 3D motion analysis system.
They found that with tablets you really can’t win. Holding your iPad out in front of you is just asking for shoulder problems – specifically, chronic injuries to the anterior labrum. So when reading or watching a movie, it’s best to prop your iPad up on a surface at the most extreme angle the case allows for (to avoid text-neck).
Of course, if you start typing you’ll have to switch back to laying it flat, since typing at an angle can cause wrist injuries. It’s a lose-lose situation – unfortunately tablets just weren’t made to be posture-friendly.
5. Hogwarts Headache
The only non-tech malady on this list, but a modern phenomenon nonetheless: a few years ago any cool kid who could read was suffering from Hogwarts Headache.
The prestigious New England Journal of Medicine actually published an article noting the unfortunate side effect of children reading more, and for longer periods, than they ever had in their lives. Thanks to a extremely popular, extremely long book, an increasing number of parents were bringing their kids to their pediatricians with tension headaches.
They were all obsessively reading the newly-released Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, a book that runs to over a quarter of a million words. Of course, the pain usually resolved itself one to two days after the patient had finished the book.
The best way to avoid such injuries is to take breaks and alternate hands while texting, gaming or spending time on your devices.
If you’re dealing with any of these injuries and the pain doesn’t disappear with a few days of rest, it’s time to give your chiropractor a call. At Ascent Chiropractic we’re committed to not just relieving symptoms but to correcting their cause and optimizing your body to function better than it ever has before.
Discover the difference personalized, comprehensive care at Ascent Chiropractic makes. Instead of just fixing your pain, let’s fix you. To schedule an appointment, call us at 262-345-4166 or use our online scheduling app.