When technology hurts

For most of us these days, our smartphone acts as an extension of our hand. And we may spend hours each day looking at a computer screen. All of this technology can be great for productivity, but not so much for our bodies.

According to a 2016 Nielson Company report, adults in the United States spend more than 10 hours each day using some form of technology — from tablets to smartphones to computers to TV. Of that time, adults who have smartphones spend more than an hour and half using them to consume media.

All of that time spent looking at screens adds up to a good bit of wear and tear on the body. Probably more than you’d expect.

Let’s take a look at three common conditions that are caused, at least in part, due to technology use.

  • Text neck. Think about your posture and your body movements when you’re texting on your smartphone. It’s just about the complete opposite from what we’d call “good posture.”

When you’re using a handheld device like a cell phone or tablet, you typically lean forward and hunch up your shoulders. Because your neck and shoulders are angled oddly, your entire upper body is strained.

So, what can you do to ease the strain? Well, it’s a good rule of thumb to look away from your device at least every five minutes. You can also try to improve your posture while texting by bringing the phone up to eye level, rather than looking down at it.

  • Smartphone thumb. You’re probably super familiar with the typical way you hold your smartphone in your hand. Using the same gripping motion to text or hold your phone repeatedly can lead to painful thumb issues.

Smartphone thumb is actually tendinitis of the thumb, which historically was really only seen in factory workers. Today, it’s much more common.

So, what can you do to prevent it? Try to alternate the finger you use when texting instead of always relying on your thumb. If you can, use the voice-to-text feature to give your fingers a break.

  • Cubital tunnel syndrome. While your fingers may take the brunt of the punishment from smartphone use, your wrists can also be affected by technology.

When you spend time with your arm bent to use a computer mouse or resting your elbows on your desk, you can develop cubital tunnel syndrome. This condition leads to numbness and tingling in the ring and small fingers of the hand, along with soreness inside the elbow.

So, what can you do to avoid this condition? Use padding between your elbow/arm and any hard surface. Avoid positions that keep your elbow flexed awkwardly for any length of time.

The best thing you can do to avoid technology aches and pains is to limit the use of devices whenever possible. It’s not always possible to avoid technology, but when it is, step away from it for a little bit. Your body will benefit.

Dealing with technology aches and pains that need a doctor’s attention? Find one here.