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. This technology can be great for productivity but not so much for our bodies.

According to a 2021 Nielson Company report, adults in the United States spend more than 11.28 hours each day using some form of technology — from tablets to smartphones to computers to TV; of that time, adults with smartphones spend more than 3 hours 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 body movements when texting on your smartphone. It’s the opposite of what we’d call “good posture.”

When 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 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 to eye level rather than looking down at it.

Smartphone thumb

You’re probably familiar with how you hold your smartphone in your hand. Using the same gripping motion to text or have 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, technology can also affect your wrists.

You can develop cubital tunnel syndrome when you spend time with your arm bent to use a computer mouse or resting your elbows on your desk. This condition leads to numbness and tingling in the ring and pinky fingers of the hand and 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.