Technology devices have become an essential part of our everyday lives. From work and school to phone calls, games and even reading this blog, there is no escaping some type of screen time throughout the day. While these tools have and continue to become increasingly important to our society, they have also caused many to develop health issues that they otherwise wouldn’t if technology wasn’t so prevalent. Here, we’ll be discussing how some of these tech devices are affecting your hand and orthopedic health and we’ll be offering some little tweaks to make things better.
Computers are a necessary device for just about anyone 12 and older. Whether desktop or lap top, computers are used daily for research, typing, reading, working and learning. Some of the biggest complaints of those sitting at a computer are related to neck, shoulder and back issues. This is mainly due to poor posture while at your desk; hunching in your chair or slouching on the couch with your laptop on your legs. This poor posture adds strain to your back and neck muscles, causing pain in your upper extremity.
Hand issues also arise from your computer. Carpal tunnel and tendonitis are common conditions experienced by those who frequently type on a keyboard and use a computer mouse. These illnesses are primarily caused from the long term hand positioning necessary to type and the repeated movements used while performing these tasks. Keeping your arms down on the desk can also cause pain and illnesses in the elbows, making it difficult to move your wrist and forearms without discomfort. To learn more about hand conditions from computers, including exercises, check out Hand Pains Caused by Your Desk Job.
No one with a phone leaves the house without it! And when at home, it is with you at all times; in your pocket, on the table or frequently, in your hand. Now many people would agree that they are on their phones too much, loosing track of time while scrolling social media or reading up on news, but have you thought about the ways that holding and using your phone has affected your hands?
Tendinitis, carpal tunnel and finger joint conditions are all problems that can arise from frequent smartphone or tablet use, including texting, scrolling and odd holding. Just like with computers, elbow disorders like bursitis and cubital tunnel can also arise from planning elbows on a table or desk while using your phone. Some also experience stiffness in the neck from looking down at their phone for hours at a time.
Like the other devices, gaming injuries derive from hand and arm positioning, repetitive movements and long term stress on the hands. Carpal tunnel, trigger finger and tennis elbow are all possible illnesses caused by frequent gaming. The most common condition associated with gaming is gamers thumb. The repetitive strain on your thumb tendons from using the joysticks on a remote leads to inflammation, which then leads to pain and limited movement.
We have another post completely dedicated to gamers thumb and gaming injuries. To learn more, check out Gamer’s Thumb and Other Gaming Hand Injuries or for exercises, read Back in the Game: Exercises for Your Gamer’s Thumb.
Preventing These Issues
You have to work on a computer, your phone is a must and you enjoy unwinding with some video games. So what do you do? There are some simple switches you can make at home to reduce your risk of acquiring or limit further damage caused by tech induced conditions.
- Keep your head and neck upright as much as possible when using your computer. Using a stand while on a tablet will also help with slouching when using a this device.
- Avoid resting your elbows on a table, desk or other hard surfaces to reduce the risk of elbow conditions.
- Your keyboard and mouse should be at elbow height when working in your deskspace.
- Take breaks from looking at your phone and playing video games. Get up, walk around, shake out your hands and arms.
- Maintain a neutral wrist position when holding your phone or place it on a surface when typing to avoid curling your wrists.
- Perform wrist, hand and shoulder stretches throughout the day.
- When swelling does occur, icing and over the counter anti-inflammatory medication can help!