Technology has certainly helped to make our lives easier in a number of ways. We no longer need to pull out a giant map in order to figure out directions, and we can look up almost any fact with the push of a few buttons no matter where we are, but technology also has plenty of drawbacks. Over-reliance on certain technologies can not only lead to mental and emotional side effects, but it can also lead to physical problems with our bodies. Considering how more and more people are relying on technology each day, it seems likely that physical therapists will have to take on more clients who are dealing with the fallout from regular use of our smartphones and computers.
In today’s blog, we take a closer look at some of the physical effects that certain forms of technology can have on our bodies, and we explain how a physical therapist can help treat these ailments.
The Physical Impact Of Technology
Technology like smartphones and laptops rarely overload our bodies in the traditional form with acute stress, but microtrauma in the form of chronic stress or repetitive motions can slowly lead to structure breakdown. For example, scrolling on your phone for a half hour won’t lead to a hand or thumb injury, but scrolling for a half hour every day for 30 years certainly can lead to some wear and tear on the same structures. Here’s a closer look at some areas that can be affected by regular use of phones, laptops and other technologies.
- Your Fingers – A relatively new condition known as “text claw” has been coined to describe finger cramping and muscle aching from activities like texting, gaming or scrolling on a phone. Limit your screen time and put the phone down if your fingers are starting to hurt.
- Your Wrists – Carpal tunnel syndrome is becoming more common in adults, and it’s developing sooner than it has in the past as teens and adults are using their fingers for more fine motor skills on their smartphones and laptops.
- Cell Phone Elbow – Cell phone elbow is a way to describe numbness of tingling in your ring and pinky fingers as a result of having your elbow bent for an extended period of time. If you have your cell phone out in front of you and your elbow is bent and holding this position for a long time, it can actually lead to physical discomfort in your pinky and ring finger.
- Text Neck – Text or tech neck is a way to describe muscle soreness and disc issues in the cervical portion of your spine that is the result of chronic neck stress. Oftentimes this strain is the result of craning your neck forward or out in front of your body to stare at a computer screen or to look at your phone when it’s in your lap.
The good news is that all of these conditions can be treated with the help of a physical therapist. Some of the ways a PT can help to treat muscle, nerve and joint issues that are the result of chronic strain or repetitive motions include:
- Strengthening exercises.
- Flexibility training.
- Posture awareness and correction techniques.
- Patient education on the physical stress caused by overreliance on technology.
- Controlled stretching to receive cramping and muscle tension.
So if you are developing new pain and you believe that your job or your technology habits may be contributing to these symptoms, reach out to a physical therapist to help protect the exposed area and learn ways to help avoid continued stress on these specific areas. For more information, or for help with your physical ailment, reach out to the team at OrthoRehab Specialists today.