Caution: Smart Phone May Cause Injuries

There are so many mobile health apps available that are designed to increase quality of life and to assist in medical care. But is it possible that smartphone usage could do just the opposite?

It’s the whole “too much of a good thing” idea. Sure, a lot of the apps are awesome. But if a person spends too much time using a smartphone, they may find themselves in the doctor’s office.

I recently read an article on MSN’s health website about this very topic.  It listed some effects of “smart phone syndrome” as the author called it. Here are a few of them:

1. Trigger Thumb: When you use your fingers for long periods of time . . . you may flame your tendons. The tendons can no longer glide through their tunnels smoothly and get temporarily stuck. This, in turn, causes the finger to lock or catch before it has a chance to open . . . which is medically a form of tendinitis.

2. Cell-phone Elbow: Elbow action plays a big role when you talk on your cell phone. Your elbow is both slightly elevated and typically flexed more than 90 degrees. The outcome . . . is that the ulnar nerve gets less blood, which, in turn, causes that nerve to short-circuit and malfunction. Common symptoms are a cold feeling and a pins-and-needles sensation, often in the ring and pinkie fingers.

3. Wrist Pain: Some tendons in the wrist are vulnerable to inflammation. This condition is often seen in parents of newborns who cradle their babies in the crook of one arm with the wrist bent and turned inward. This wrist position is similar to way people cup their smart phones . . . and it puts pressure on certain tendons that can become inflamed.

4. Exposure to Germs:  If you use a smart phone or cell phone covered with your own germs, there’s generally no harm done. But if you’re sharing phones, you may be vulnerable. . . . Only between 1 percent and 2 percent of all germs are pathogens — meaning they’ll cause disease no matter how healthy you are.

Other issues noted among avid-smartphone users were behavioral issues, such as anti-social tendencies.

Granted, these ailments are probably more likely to happen to someone playing Angry Birds or Words with Friends than someone surfing health apps. But the bottom-line is, over-use of smart phones are not going to make life easier. In order to use one, make sure you are as smart as the phone, and know what the limits are.

Personally, I use my smart phone quite a bit and really haven’t experienced any of these things, but I guess I can’t speak for everyone. Smart phones are now involved with health, for better and for worse.

About the author

Katie Clark

Katie Clark

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

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