You use your smartphone every day, all day. A smartphone seems safe enough, but using your phone too much can cause injury. Smartphone injury may sound weird, but it’s a growing problem. Here are 7 of the most common smartphone injuries and how to avoid them to help you understand more about these injuries.
Your smartphone is your lifeline.
Your smartphone is more than just a phone. It’s like a lifeline to the world. Over the years, as smartphones have gotten smarter, their everyday use has increased. Like most people, you probably use your smartphone every day in all kinds of ways, such as the following things:
- An alarm
- To communicate with friends and family.
- Reading the news
- To check work emails.
- Listen to music
- Take pictures
- Navigate to a destination
- Audiobooks or reading a book
- Stock exchange
- Fitness such as step counting
What is the difference between carpal tunnel and cubital tunnel?
Overuse of your smartphone can cause two common injuries: cubital tunnel or carpal tunnel. These two conditions are similar because in both cases, there is pressure on your nerves.
When the ulnar nerve inside the cubital tunnel, the tunnel the incorporates your muscles, ligaments, and bones inside your elbow, gets inflamed or irritated. The cubital tunnel’s pain is like when you hit your funny bone because it’s the nerve is inflamed.
Carpal tunnel begins when you have pressure on your median nerve. The carpal tunnel is the small passageway near the bones and ligaments. When the median nerve is pressed, you’ll feel tingling and numbness in your thumb and fingers, plus weakness in your hand and arm. Repeated hand movements cause carpal tunnel syndrome.
7 Common smartphone injuries
Many people use a smartphone without ever getting hurt. But some people are more prone to smartphone injuries such as these.
1 – Smartphone elbow
Keeping your elbow at a 90-degree angle for long periods of time may cause pain in your elbow. When you’re on an extended phone call, you may hold your cell phone up to your ear with your elbow bent at an angle. This puts pressure on the nerves, which decreases the blood flow and causes inflammation. Smartphone elbow causes numbness and tingling. Try to change the way you hold your phone while you’re on a call. Avoid holding the phone at a 90-degree angle. You may want to purchase a hands-free device so you can talk on the phone without holding it.
2 – Smartphone pinky finger
Your poor pinky finger works hard when you’re on your phone. It bears much of the weight of the smartphone, sometimes for hours at a time. This is called smartphone pinky. This condition sounds funny, but the condition is no laughing matter since it’s very painful. The good news is that this injury isn’t permanent. Try taking a break from your smartphone to ease the pain in your little pinky. Try some stretching exercises periodically to stimulate the blood flow and relax your fingers.
3 – Posture problems
You probably check your emails, texts and catch up on your favorite sports team’s scores throughout the day. When you’re checking your smartphone, if you sit or stand with your head bent down and your shoulders hunched over as you look at your smartphone, it can cause posture problems. Hunching your shoulders or funnily bending your neck puts a strain on your muscles. Try these good posture methods.
- Avoid hunching your shoulders.
- Sit straight and tall.
- Keep your phone at eye level.
- Take frequent breaks from your smartphone.
- Stand tall and if you notice you’re slumping, correct your posture.
- Don’t arch your back.
- Relax your body when you’re talking on the phone
4 – Wrist pain
Your smartphone is a great tool to stay connected with your friends and family, stay up to date at work, and check the latest news. Like so many good things, a smartphone has some negatives. The constant scrolling, swiping, and tapping may cause injury to your wrist and hand. A recent study found that wrist pain is a common complaint of smartphone users. Overuse of your phone creates a repetitive movement that causes this pain and can result in an actual disability in your wrist joint.
5 – Texting thumb pain
Touch screens make it easy to communicate via texting. But texting gives your thumb a real workout since you use your thumbs to text. The tendon in your thumb may get inflamed from the repeated movement of texting. The inflammation can lead to pain in your thumb and a clicking sound when you bend your thumb. It’s best to give your thumbs a break. Try to use other fingers to text. If the pain persists, talk to your doctor. They can give you a thumb splint that provides support for your thumb to ease the pain.
Overuse of your smartphone can strain your eyes. Eye strain can result in other problems, such as
- Less blinking: You need to blink your eyes to keep your eyeballs moist. Blinking is a natural protection from exposure to dust and sunlight. When you use your smartphone, you stare at the phone without blinking with gives your eyes less time to recover so you can develop dry eyes.
- Squinting: When you read small text on your phone, you are apt to squint. This puts a strain on your eyeballs and can blur your vision.
- Glare: Smartphones have glare. Looking at a glaring screen too long causes eye strain.
How to avoid strain while using your smartphone
- Blink a lot to keep your eyes moist.
- Buy anti-glare film screen protectors for your phone to lower glare.
- Take frequent breaks from your smartphone. Your eyes need a break from the up-close reading.
- Adjust the brightness of your smartphone. Set your screen on a less bright setting to protect your eyes.
- Adjust the text size to give your eyes a break and make reading easier on your smartphone.
- Keep your screen clean. Wipe off the screen to keep it fingerprint and dust-free. This improves the readability of your screen.
- Hold your smartphone farther away from your face. Try holding your phone at least 16 to 18 inches from your face. This lowers the strain on your eyes.
7 – Germs
You take your smartphone with you everywhere, such as the store, the gym, and even the bathroom. It’s easy to forget that germs you encounter in these places are getting transferred to your smartphone. One study found that smartphones are crawling with bacteria. These bacteria colonizations are capable of spreading disease. Some pretty awful bacteria are living on your smartphone. So, what nasty bacteria are living on your smartphone?
If you take your smartphone with you when you go to the bathroom, there is a good chance that E. coli will get on the phone. These bacteria live in your intestines and get transferred to fecal matter. E. coli causes diarrhea, food poisoning, and other gastro issues. Don’t take your phone with you to the bathroom. It’s tempting, but it’s too risky. Be sure to wash your hands with soap and warm water every time you use the bathroom. Dry your hands on a clean towel or paper towel.
This is another common bacteria found on smartphones. It causes strep throat in kids, but it can also cause scarlet fever, necrotizing fasciitis, a flesh-eating disease, or toxic shock syndrome.
The flu virus can live on your smartphone for up to 24 hours. Keep your phone clean to avoid getting the flu.
This common bacteria can live on smartphones. Certain strains of these bacteria are more dangerous than others. Skin infections are common, easily treated with antibiotics, but staph also causes MRSA, a more serious staph bacteria life-threatening. It can lead to pneumonia and bloodstream infections.
Wipe your smartphone every day to remove bacteria and germs. Use disinfectant wipes with at least 70% isopropyl alcohol. Use a soft cloth to wipe it off. Please don’t get it too wet since it can damage your phone.
How to avoid smartphone injuries?
Overuse of your smartphone can cause injury. To avoid these injuries, there are some things you can do every day. Most smartphone injuries can be avoided simply by not overuse. There are other suggestions to reduce injury.
- Use a hands-free device.
- Use earbuds (if you don’t lose and try to find airpod case every day like me)
- Change your position throughout the day.
- Use a headset while you’re on your smartphone.
- Try stretching throughout the day.
- Use warm or cold packs to ease the pain.
- Don’t wait for pain. Take a break before you feel pain.
- Change your hands when you talk on the phone.
- Bigger phones are better since your fingers can spread out better. The downside is that bigger phones are heavier. The extra weight could cause injury.
Smartphones make your life easier, but you may be susceptible to injuries if you use your smartphone in the wrong way or too much. Not everyone experiences these injuries, but overuse may lead to neck, shoulder, or hand pain. Your thumb and fingers get a workout when you text, scroll, and swipe all day. Smartphone overuse can also cause wrist pain, eye strain, or posture problems. Besides these injuries, your smartphone harbors lots of germs.
Bacteria such as strep, staff infections, and E. coli are common bacteria found on smartphones. To avoid smartphone injuries, try stretching, changing your position throughout the day, and taking a break from your phone. Smartphones are wonderful conveniences, but be sure to care for yourself to not end up with a long term painful injury.