Person holding smartphone

Is Your Smartphone Causing You Pain?

Smartphones, though we may wonder how we ever survived without them, often result in physical problems we could all happily do without. At Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine, we diagnose and treat many patients who are suffering from musculoskeletal injuries directly related to their frequent use of these devices. If you are troubled by neck, elbow or shoulder pain, it may well be related to your cell phone use. 

Contact our skilled physicians for accurate diagnosis and prompt, effective treatment options. Because we are physiatrists who specialize in nonsurgical therapies, we offer a broader range of remedies than most practices, including traditional ones like customized physical therapy and corticosteroid injections, and complementary ones like acupuncture, PRP (platelet-rich plasma) and PEMF (pulsed electromagnetic field) therapy.

Smartphone Injuries That Aren’t Smart

The long periods of time users spend on their smartphones, often while in awkward positions, create undue stress on their joints, muscles, and nerves. Injuries that result from cell phone use include the following injuries, many of which have earned appropriate nicknames because of the frequency with which they occur:

  1. “Text neck” is usually the result of keeping the head in an unnatural position while texting, especially while texting and walking. Patients are troubled by stiffness, soreness, or tingling in the neck, upper back, and shoulders. These discomforts result from overuse that strains the muscles and tendons in the area by maintaining a strained posture for an extended period of time.
  2. “Text claw” or carpal tunnel syndrome results from the perpetual use of the wrist to text or scroll. It causes pain and numbness in the wrist and the pinky side of the hand.
  3. “Smartphone pinky”* occurs when a pinky nerve is compressed. This can happen if you are repeatedly balancing your phone against your pinky to text or scroll, causing the digit to tingle or become numb.
  4. “Smartphone elbow” (cubital tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow) happens when the ulnar nerve, which passes through the cubital tunnel on the inside of the elbow, becomes inflamed and swollen. This condition is worsened by holding the phone up when talking or texting. Cubital tunnel syndrome results in numbness and tingling along the pinky side of the hand and the ring and pinky fingers. It also causes poor finger coordination and weakness of grip in the affected hand. 
  5. Texting thumb is a repetitive motion injury due to overuse of the thumbs while texting. Over time, it can cause or exacerbate thumb tendon issues or accelerate arthritis in the thumb joint.

Smartphone Pain Can Lead to Long-Term Nerve Damage

Although aches and pains in the upper body, arms, wrists, hands, and fingers have become commonplace with the widespread usage of smartphones, such symptoms should not be ignored. During early stages, nerve damage may be reversible, but if left untreated scar tissue can build up and further nerve damage can occur. 

This can result in deterioration and permanent harm, causing loss of sensation, mobility, and/or deformity. This is why you should pay attention to symptoms related to smartphone use. Ignoring them will likely allow them to worsen and interfere with your efficiency and quality of life. 

Contact Our Experienced Physiatrists Today

Our doctors specialize in practical, nonsurgical treatments of musculoskeletal injuries, such as those related to smartphone use. As holistic practitioners, we are geared toward rapid pain relief and restoration of function and are always focused on which therapies will work most quickly and effectively in your particular case. If you are suffering smartphone injuries, don’t let them worsen to the point that they interfere with your ability to research, express yourself or communicate. Contact Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine now.