Our phones consume way too much of our time. You may start to feel the effects of swiping and scrolling after a while. Your wrist might hurt, or you might feel numb or tingly in your hand.
What if this is a sign that there is something more serious going on? Approximately three to six percent of adults in the general population suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, the most common entrapment neuropathy.
You might experience wrist pain after using your phone – in this article, we’ll explain what this condition is all about and how your phone might be causing it.
What Is Carpal Tunnel?
A condition called Median Nerve Compression, or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, causes symptoms such as numbness, tingling, and weakness of the hand.
When the flexor tendons compress the median nerves in the wrist, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome will develop. Synovium is the tissue that compresses the median nerve. In normal circumstances, the synovium lubricates the tendons so you can move your fingers with ease.
When the synovium swells, it takes up space in the carpal tunnel and, over time, crowds the nerve. This abnormal pressure on the nerve can result in pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in the hand.
The first sign of numb fingers may be that they “fall asleep” at night. Most people hold their hands while they sleep, which causes their fingers to become numb.
You may wake up with tingling and numbness through your hands that may extend to your shoulder. The symptoms might flare up during the day while you’re holding something with your wrist bent, such as when you’re reading or driving.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Symptoms
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome includes the following symptoms:
- The tingling, burning sensation, or itching in your palm, thumb, or index or middle finger
- Weakness in your hand and trouble holding things
- Shock-like feelings that move into your fingers
- Tingling that rolls up into your arm
Carpal Tunnel Risk Factors
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is more likely to occur if:
- You are a woman. Females are three times more likely to get it than males. One reason might be that females’ carpal tunnels are smaller.
- A family member suffers from small carpal tunnels.
- Have a job that involves repetitive motions with your arm, hand, or wrist, such as an assembly line worker, knitter, sewer, baker, cashier, hairstylist, or musician.
- Dislocate or fracture your wrist.
- People with diabetes or other metabolic disorders are likely to get this disorder.
Does Your Phone Use Cause Carpal Tunnel?
The use of smartphones and other handheld electronics and the risk of developing such a syndrome was linked in a small study.
During the study, On the one hand, a surgeon said that in the real world, very few people use their smartphones as much as heavy smartphone users did in the study. However, the researchers did not prove that heavy smartphone use caused carpal tunnel syndrome.
Study author Peter White said the findings suggest “caution may be warranted when using handheld electronic devices, in order to minimize the chance of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.”
In an awkward position, holding a smartphone for a long time can cause wrist pain. If you plan to hold your phone for a long time, keep your wrist in a neutral position – it is neither flexed nor extended.
In addition to “texting thumb,” prolonged smartphone usage can also produce wrist, hand, or thumb pain. This condition is not a diagnosis but instead describes the pain caused by a smart device.
What Are The Treatments For Carpal Tunnel?
In addition to your symptoms, the extent of your disease will determine the treatment you receive. While carpal tunnel syndrome is a gradual condition, without treatment, it tends to worsen over time. To avoid this, you should seek evaluation and treatment from your doctor as soon as possible. In the early stages, there may be a chance of slowing or stopping the progression of the disease.
- Lifestyle changes
Try taking more frequent breaks or doing less of the activity causing you pain if the repetitive motion is causing your symptoms.
Strengthening and stretching exercises can improve your health. Activities such as nerve gliding can help the nerve in your carpal tunnel move more easily.
Your doctor may suggest you wear a splint to immobilize your wrist and reduce nerve pressure. You might consider wearing one at night if you feel numb or tingly at night. Doing so can help your median nerve rest and help you sleep.
Swelling may be reduced with anti-inflammatory medications or steroid injections.
- Surgical procedures
If none of those treatments work for you, you may have an operation called a carpal tunnel release, which opens up the canal and thereby eases the pressure on your nerves.
How Can You Reduce Your Risk Of Getting Carpal Tunnel?
To prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, you should try to:
- Be sure to keep your wrists straight.
- A splint or brace that supports your wrist will help keep it in a neutral position.
- Keep your wrists from continually flexing and extending.
- Make sure your hands are warm.
- Don’t forget to take breaks whenever you can.
- When working, keep your wrists and hands in the correct positions.
- Seek medical help when you start to feel symptoms for longer than three days. Prevention is better than cure.
In most cases, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome worsens over time, so early diagnosis and treatment are essential. Simple measures such as wearing a wrist splint or avoiding certain activities can often relieve symptoms early on.
However, pressure on the median nerve can cause nerve damage and worsen symptoms in the long run. If your nerve pain does not improve with over-the-counter medication and physical therapy, you should consult a physician.
Researchers have not yet established conclusively that excessive use of cell phones leads to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. The fact that you hold your phone at an awkward angle while using it might contribute to symptoms, but further research is needed to prove that your phone causes the condition.