4 common bodily injuries due to excessive use of electronic devices


Modern technology helps things quickly and more convenient, but the abuse of it can cause injuries and pain is unavoidable.

Long time working with the computer, followed by hours spent on social media on mobile devices can be stressful on the body. This situation will be heightened in 2020 by the global Covid-19 pandemic, as everyone must stay home to prevent illness. Technology will be increasingly developed and attached to people, so we need to recognize 4 types of injuries caused by using too much equipment to be able to effectively prevent and treat.

Neck pain syndrome

Neck pain syndrome (CPS) is a variety of conditions caused by changes in the spine of the neck and surrounding soft tissue, mainly accompanied by pain. Factors contributing to this syndrome include, sitting in an uncomfortable position for a long time, and neck flexed.

The two most common poses that anyone will ever experience that causes neck pain to appear are using a laptop while sitting in bed and looking down at mobile devices (illustration).

Due to the tendency of these postures to bend over long periods of time, the impact of the load exerted by the weight of the head and tension in the neck muscles will eventually lead to degeneration of the cervical vertebra and disc, loss of neck function and scoliosis.

The most common manifestation of CPS is pain and spasm of the neck muscles that can extend to the back of the head and shoulders. There are also headaches and tingling with or without pain. X-ray findings are often consistent with a loss of the normal curve of the spine.

Further imaging analyzes such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can reveal degenerative changes within the spine. (Illustration).

There are many methods of treating neck pain to ease symptoms and correct incorrect posture. Besides, taking pain relievers, anti-inflammatory drugs or muscle relaxants is a good initial intervention. Physiotherapy is also very helpful when it comes to focusing on strength exercises and range of motion. For those who sit at work for long periods of time, doing ergonomics also helps in preventing pain from worsening.

Carpal tunnel syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is one of the most common causes of disability at work in the United States. At least 1 out of 10 people will develop or experience symptoms of the syndrome.

CTS is the result of compression of the median nerve as it passes through the carpal tunnel from the wrist to the hand. (Illustration)

Using a keyboard, mouse or cell phone more can contribute to the exacerbation. The practice of self-photography has emerged as a form of CTS cause in the digital age. Injuries such as fractures can occur from repeated wrist bends to use a mobile device to take pictures of yourself.

Patients with CTS often experience pain, tingling tingling in the hands, especially the thumb and two adjacent fingers. The weakening of muscles in the base of the thumb can develop due to chronic compression of the mediastinum.

Diagnosis of CTS is usually done based on a clinical history, physical exam, electromyography (EMG) or neurotransmission study. EMG or neurotransmitter assists in determining the exact location of the pinched nerve to facilitate its release.

Management of this syndrome includes immobilization, topical corticosteroids, and avoidance of chronic, repetitive injury. In severe cases of CTS, surgery is needed to release the compression of the nerve.

Carpal tendonitis

Tendonitis (DTS) is an injury caused by overuse that results in inflammation of one or two tendons on the thumb side of the wrist. Pain and swelling can develop due to constant use of a cell phone in the form of holding or texting. Selfies can also cause repetitive stress trauma to the same tendons as DTS, which manifest pain in the same sites.

The size of the mobile device relative to the user’s hand has also played a role in the development of DTS. A variety of smartphones with larger screens were introduced. With this large size, the hand will be subjected to more intense stress, resulting in more severe cases of tendinitis.

Posture when texting on mobile phones is one of the reasons behind the development of many pain and disease syndromes. (Artwork photo)

Diagnosis of DTS is based on the patient’s history and physical examination, with several assays to support such as the Finkelstein, Eichhoff, WHAT test. Treatment for DTS begins with rest and repetitive activity regulation, taking anti-inflammatory medications and possibly using a thumb brace. When the above methods are not successful, corticosteroid injections may be more helpful. In chronic cases, your doctor will likely order a tendin membrane release surgery.

Tendonitis of the fingers

Tendonitis is the result of thickening of the folded tendon membrane or of the flexor tendon itself. In adults, the fingers are the most common; and for children, the thumb is the most affected place.

Long-term use of mobile phones and game consoles contributed to the growing popularity of this situation. The patient often experiences pain and difficulty in straightening the affected fingers. The pain can also be accompanied by a sensation of a snap or a grip, leading to a locked finger in the folded position.

In severe cases, your doctor will order surgery to release stress that has a lasting effect on the nerve or tendons and tendon membranes. (Artwork photo)

Diagnosis of the syndrome is based on history and physical examination. Clinical findings usually include pain on A1 pulley (left and center image) and examination of tendons by flexing and extension of fingers. Initial treatment usually involves activity adjustment, splinting, and corticosteroid injection directly into the tendon membrane. If no progress is seen with the methods above, surgery for A1 pulley release and disassembly may be indicated.

Huong Giang (Source: Medscape)

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