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‘Cell phone elbow’: Chatting for too long could ‘stress out a nerve’


Now those who just can’t stop chatting with their phones are facing a new menace called ‘cell phone elbow’. Using your mobile phone for too long can damage nerves in your arm. They have also been blamed for damaging hearing and exposing users to harmful radiation. Users who hold their phones to their ears for long periods are at risk of developing a painful condition in their arm. By bending their elbow too tightly, and for too long, they could overextend a main nerve which is painful; this can lead to tingling or numbness from the elbow to the fingers. Orthopaedic specialists (concerned with bones) say they are seeing increasing numbers of patients with the condition.

How does this happen?

There is a nerve called the ULNAR nerve located in the upper arm, the ulnar nerve passes through several small tunnels and outlets of bones and these regions of the nerve are vulnerable to compression or entrapment when there is disruption in the normal anatomy i.e the positioning of the arm. Compression of the nerve here, often leads to a tingling or ‘pins and needles’ sensation in the little and ring finger.

This occurs when we bend the arm for too long at the elbow joint and this can be seen in cases when we make calls with the phone for too long, chatting and also in our sleep positions. This restricts blood flow to the fingers also stretching the nerve repeatedly, which travels through the forearm and branches into the hand, can become weakened and scarred leading to numbness over time and the weakness of the hand set in, there is difficulty opening jars, typing, writing or playing instruments. . This condition is known in the Medical field as ‘cubital tunnel syndrome’,

This condition could be prevented or reduced by maintaining good posture and proper use of the elbow and arms by not keeping the elbow tightly bent when using our phones. It is also advised that mobile users switch their phones from hand to hand often.

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