Technology surrounds us and it seems every day a new device is launched that we “must have”. These can make our lives easier to communicate and have fun, however there is a downside … new medical conditions. Consider a Harris Study showed 60% of Americans suffer from a health issue created by digital technology overuse.
Consider these new ailments:
- Text neck is now a common complaint. Whether sitting at desks and slouching over a laptop or constantly looking at a smart phone, did you know that texting with your head in a downward position can place up to 60 pounds of pressure on your neck? No wonder we have stiff necks! Try to keep your smartphone at eye level when texting and elevate your desktop in order to look straight ahead.
- Computer vision syndrome, or simply put, eyestrain is no small surprise when the average person spends over 8 hours a day looking at a digital device. Thirty-six percent of us suffer from eye strain and 26% suffer from headaches due to device usage. It’s difficult to cue yourself to look away from the screen every 20 minutes and “take 5”, however that’s a good time to stretch your legs as well and get your blood circulating again.
- Carpal Tunnel is becoming more and more prevalent, particularly among younger people and those in certain professions. Professional musicians (such as violinists and pianists) and administrative staff are prone to wrist and elbow pain from repetitive motion that is a culprit of this condition.
- You may not think this next condition could be attributed to technology however, obesity has become a common occurrence around the world. We are sitting for longer periods of time and have developed poor eating habits like eating at our desks. Unfortunately, sitting for long periods of time and being overweight can be a precursor to deep vein thrombosis (DVT) that affects how your blood clots and can even lead to a stroke.
- I don’t know of a single person who does not use ear buds for some reason, whether it’s talking on the phone or simply listening to music. Ear bud infections & hearing loss is occurring more frequently in younger people. Try to keep your music at a safe level and remove your earbuds after phone usage. Hearing loss is almost inevitable as we age, however we don’t want to exacerbate the inevitable too early.
- Text thumb may sound like something we made up but yes, it really is a “thing”. It’s also been referred to as “Candy Crush Thumb”. The condition is created by overuse of the thumbs when text messaging. It is a form of deQuervain’s tendinitis, an inflammation. There are simple methods to ease the discomfort of deQuervain’s however the best method is to avoid repetitive use of your thumbs.
- There are other ailments with amusing names … “Selfie Hand”, “Text Claw”, “Selfie Elbow” … and they are all painful. Some have even sent people to the emergency room. Over the course of their lifetime, millennials will have taken an astounding amount of over 25,000 selfies each. The repetitive actions place stress on the hands, wrists, arms, and necks. It is not the phone weight causing discomfort, it’s the repetitive strain from the position of the hand or wrist.
Limiting our smart phone time or disconnecting entirely from the tech world can be difficult so what’s the answer to avoiding a generation of these future high-tech ailments? Try some of these tips for a better experience:
- Use voice dictation when sending a text or email from your phone.
- Do a “prayer stretch” by placing palms together under the chin and pulling hands down toward the waist keeping them close to the chest.
- Push palms up above the chest and down toward your shoulders several times; using an 8-ounce water bottle or soup can may help strengthen muscles.
- Icing the inflamed area may relieve discomfort.
- Shoulder and wrist rolls may help your muscles from fatiguing.
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