Over the past few decades, the use of personal electronic devices has increased significantly. We now have complete generations in which there is no concept of life without a Smart Phone or other technology. There’s no denying that personal devices do offer certain advantages. However, it is also important that we become aware of the potential downsides of having our hands on a device several times (or several hours) a day.
Are Your Hands Taking a Beating?
Signs that you may be overusing an electronic device include:
- Your thumbs or fingers cramp while using your device. This can stem from the pressure that is placed on the base of the thumb (it’s 13 times more than what occurs on the pad of the thumb!) when we text, type, or hold a small device.
- Numbness or tingling in the fingers due to the position of the elbow and wrist when using small devices.
- Fingers catch or trigger due to inflammation caused by repetitive movements.
- Your neck and shoulders often feel sore or tense. This is due to the posture you take when using devices.
Decreasing the Effects of Digital Device Use
It is important to develop good habits when typing, texting, and otherwise using the hands. With a few strategies, the risks of chronic pain and hand problems are diminished. We suggest:
- If necessary, set a timer to remind yourself to take a break from a task in which you are holding a device or using your hands.
- Be aware of your posture when using devices. When possible, sit in a chair with a back you can lean on for support.
- Stretch your neck by gently tilting your head forward, to the sides, and backward.
- Stretch your shoulders by clasping your hands behind your back. This opens the chest to prevent tightening of the muscles that pull the shoulders forward.
- Stretch your hands and fingers by placing your palms down on a table or gently pulling fingers back.
- If possible, alternate hands so one is not doing all the work.
- Use a PopSocket or loop to hold your phone. This reduces the grip needed to secure the device.
- Avoid sitting with elbows or wrists bent for more than a few minutes at a time.
Hand, wrist, elbow, shoulder, and spinal posture all affect how we feel. Healthy use of personal digital devices can decrease your risk for carpal tunnel and other uncomfortable conditions. If you experience ongoing pain that rest does not alleviate, contact us. We can perform a thorough examination and imaging to fully evaluate important structures.