Could Electronic Devices Play a Role In Carpal Tunnel Development?

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Woman with phone in the city

Smartphones could be leading to a trend among the youth of sore and aching wrists and fingers, according to an article by The Economic Times.

Doctors point out that smartphone users have been reporting soreness or numbness in their hands or wrists after an extended period of time texting. The size of the phone doesn’t help in these aspects, as it requires more compressed joint movement.

As some may know, smartphones require specialized screws, like a SEMS screw, which combines a fastener and a screw in one. These hybrid microscrews are necessary because the devices are so small.

And those small sizes and compressed movements can lead to problems down the road with continued use, says Dr. Sanjeev Kakar, an orthopedic surgeon at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

“I think we may see more problems in terms of hand disorders, such as tendonitis, repetitive strain injuries, arthritis, thumb arthritis down the road, and even possibly carpal tunnel syndrome. I don’t think this will happen if you’ve texted once in your life. I think the process of doing this over 20 to 30 years may lead to having these problems down the road.”

However, despite these potential problems, there have not been any official medical diagnoses based on the technology issue. So just because there are hand and wrist problems, does not mean that smartphone usage is the cause, notes Dr. Kakar.

“I think you’d be hard-pressed to have a direct linkage between too much electronic device time and carpal tunnel syndrome,” he says. “I don’t think it’s been proven by this, but it does raise awareness.”

A small study published in the journal Muscle and Nerve suggests that using electronic devices for more than five hours a day might affect the nerve in your wrist known to play a role in carpal tunnel syndrome.

This study involved only 48 adults, mostly between the ages of 18 and 25, and many did not report classic symptoms of carpal tunnel. They reported having levels of pain in their hands and wrists, however.

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