Love your smartphone and the way your fingers slide smoothly over its screen? Take pride in being able to type with one hand, and that too with lightning speed?
But did you know that your ‘smart skills’ might be doing more harm than good?
Recent studies show overuse of smartphones is one of the reasons why more and more young adults are getting diagnosed with carpal tunnel these days.
Not proud anymore, are you?
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a condition where you feel numbness, inflammation, and weakness in your hands due to pressure on the median nerve in the wrist. This pressure is caused by the repetitive, overuse of your wrists while performing any activity.
Yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like.
Continuous typing, swiping, tapping on your smartphones, tablets, laptops might be putting you at a great risk of getting CTS!
Even doctors now are surprised by the number of young people who come in complaining of inflammation, numbness, weakness in their hands.
Speaking to The Quint, Dr PN Renjen, Senior Consultant, Neurology, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals said:
These days, computer related injuries are on the rise among young adults since most of their days are spent on either computers, laptops or smart phones. Overuse of such gadgets leads to multiple wrist, spine, lower body injuries.
He said that previously, this type of syndrome was seen in people who used a keyboard and a mouse vigorously at work. But these days, everyone is using their smartphones – all the time!
Such activities put a lot of pressure on your fingers, especially your thumbs, which can lead to many serious issues if not diagnosed and treated in time.
CTS is mostly not diagnosed properly in India as many confuse it with Spondylitis pain. It is neurogenic pain caused by repetitive, prolonged wrist movements and can be treated with certain lifestyle changes.Dr PN Renjen
In fact, people who use multiple devices or mostly use their smartphones with one hand might be at a greater risk.
Don’t be alarmed! We are not asking you to part ways with your beloved gadgets. Instead, you could follow these simple steps to avoid getting carpal tunnel.
We know, it’s easier said than done, but it is important that you relax your fingers every once in a while and let them breathe!
Speaking to The Quint, Dr Seema Grover, Senior Consultant, Physiotherapy, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals said:
Any activity which requires repetitive use of your fingers and wrist over a long period of time must be done in moderation. It is advisable to take breaks after every 30-45 minutes and stretch your fingers.
If you know which specific activity causes pain and discomfort then try and rest your wrist a little longer so that the pressure doesn’t built up.
Maintain Neutral Posture of Your Wrists
Since carpal tunnel has a lot to do with the posture of your hands, it is advisable to try and maintain neutral positions while typing or texting. This will help prevent undue pain and discomfort.
It is important that the wrist in placed in a neutral position at all possible times. The wrist must be placed in straight alignment with the forearm, not higher or lower.Dr Seema Grover
Stretch Your Fingers
Stretching your hands in between breaks is a good way to let your nerves relax.
Simple stretching exercises will help provide mobility, increase blood circulation and help reduce numbness.
Make a fist with your thumb inside the fist and open it slowly. Repeat this a few times in between your breaks. It will help relax your nerves and provide some exercise to your fingers.Dr Seema Grover
Use Both Hands!
Let thy hands share the pain!
But seriously, it is advisable to try and use both your hands wherever possible while using your phone or laptop. It will distribute the pressure and you won’t overuse one hand thus protecting both your median nerves.
Wear a Carpal Tunnel Splint
In many cases, doctors advise people to wear carpal tunnel splints while working. It is a splint especially designed to provide support to your wrists and minimize pressure on the median nerve.
CT splints help maintain the correct posture of your wrists and restrict the movement of your fingers. This helps reduce pressure on the median nerve and supports the region above and below your wrist.Dr P N Renjen
Carpal tunnel can be painful and take away a lot of fun from your daily life. So, it is better to take precautions now than to be sorry later.
If the inflammation and pain is unbearable then immediately consult a doctor. Early detection and treatment can go a long way in preventing permanent damage.