Our modern world is ruled by technology. Twenty years ago, few people imagined that telephones would serve as portable computers or that text messages would largely replace conversation for a new generation.
Just as most people could not foresee the explosive growth of smartphones and tablets, they likely did not anticipate these devices as catalysts for a wide range of tech-related injuries.
Modern devices have caused a significant upswing in repetitive strain injuries, according to Medical News Today. Because the range of repetitive motion injuries is so diverse, there are a huge number of potential symptoms. Some of the more general symptoms include tenderness or pain in affected muscles or joints, throbbing (pulsating) sensation in the affected area, tingling, loss of strength or loss of sensation.
Here are examples of high-tech injuries your parents never worried about. If you are experiencing any of these or suffering from other chronic pain conditions, you should consult with a medical professional that specializes in pain and injury management.
This modern ailment is described as neck pain and damage sustained from using a cell phone, tablet, or other wireless devices. While people have long looked down to read books, magazine, or to write, the advent of cell phones and tablets means many are watching those devices far longer and more often than ever before.
Symptoms of this condition can include upper back pain that can be nagging and chronic or sharp with severe shoulder spasms. Shoulder pain and soreness are also possible. If a cervical nerve becomes pinched, it is possible to have pain and numbness radiating down your arm and into your hand.
In a study done by Harvard School of Public Health researchers reported study participants’ “heads and necks were in more flexed positions while using the tablets than those typical of desktop or notebook computer users.” The result of unnatural and uncomfortable positions while using a tablet device is more stress on the shoulders, neck and head area.
Eye strain and soreness
Your mom was wrong about permanently hurting your eyes by sitting too close to a television; however, you can make your eyes tired from prolonged staring at a screen. In addition, you can develop eye irritation, blurry vision and headaches.
To avoid problems, take a break every 45-60 minutes and focus your eyes on distant objects. Use a few drops of artificial tears eye drops for lubrication if your eyes feel dry or sore.
Visual fatigue has also been associated with migraines and neck pain.
Hand and Wrist Pain
Repetitive strain injuries have been mostly associated with the use of computers in the few last few decades.
Computer workplace related repetition illnesses usually involve the fingers, wrists, hands, elbows, arms, and/or shoulders.
There are a variety of illnesses that may be caused by repetitive computer work including:
Tendonitis: pain and swelling of tendons at the junction between the tendon and its muscle
Epicondylitis (tennis elbow): pain and swelling where the tendons and bone join around the elbow joint
Ganglion: Usually a smooth round swelling or inflammation that appears near a joint (leg, wrist) or a tendon sheath. Ganglions most often occur on the back of the hand.
Tenosynovitis: pain and inflammation of the tendons and/or their covering sheaths particularly in the hands and wrists;
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS): a thickening or swelling of the tendons as they pass through the front of the wrist thereby causing pressure on the median nerve. The pressure causes pain, burning sensations, numbness, and tingling of the skin connected to or supplied by the median nerve. CTS can eventually lead to weakness, discomfort, and impaired use of the hand.
Just as there are a wide variety of repetitive strain injuries, there are also many treatments. These range from anti-inflammatory and/or pain medications to surgical options. Physical therapy often plays an important role in helping patients learn to avoid or prevent the motion patterns that instigated the pain.
In instances where other forms of therapy aren’t sufficient, a physician that specializes in pain management and intervention can use steroid injections, nerve blocks and other methods to help eliminate the pain.
Dr. Alex Bigham is the owner and CEO of Novocur Pain Management Clinics and has over 18 years of healthcare experience in private practice and Ambulatory Surgical Center settings. Novocur offers advanced treatment options in a concierge type practice without the concierge price tag. Dr. Bigham appears frequently on local TV and radio programs to discuss the latest in Pain Management or related health topics.
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