Texting, typing take toll
Cellphones are practically glued to our hands.
Workdays are spent behind computer screens.
And free time is spent with tablets and gaming systems in hand.
All of that extra time with technology could lead to injuries.
“As much as we’re using our cellphones, and we’re all on computers, especially laptops, we’re seeing a lot of overuse injuries,” said Kim Robinson, a physical therapist at Immanuel Rehabilitation Institute in Omaha.
Aches and pains from all that rapid texting and typing can show up in the obvious places: thumbs, hands and wrists. But it can also take a toll on your posture. Slouching over your phone or craning your neck to see the computer screen can leave necks and shoulders hurting.
In recent years, conditions have popped up for overuse injuries like “text claw,” “Blackberry thumb,” “selfie elbow,” and “Nintendonitis.” That’s because too much of any particular movement can cause injury, said Dr. Joseph Morgan, an orthopedic surgeon at the Nebraska Medical Center.
“In general for joints, a body in motion stays in motion,” Morgan said. “I wouldn’t guess that our technology today is a setup for bigger problems down the road, but it’s certainly possible. Time could tell.”
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Screen time tactics
Dr. Joseph Morgan and physical therapist Kim Robinson offer these tips for alleviating and preventing tech-related pain.
• Hold your phone out in front of you. Keep it out of your lap to avoid hunching over.
• Slow down when typing to prevent overuse of the tendons.
• Use both thumbs to text.
• If your hands need a break, try using voice-activated texting.
• Ask human resources for a computer or workstation assessment. A professional can give you tips for a more ergonomic space.
• While working at a computer, keep your back straight.
• Make sure the computer screen is in your direct line of sight and doesn’t require you to crane your neck.
• Place your keyboard as low to your lap as you can to keep elbows and shoulders relaxed.
• Stand up at least every 40 to 60 minutes.
• If the more you text, the worse your pain gets, take a break from tapping your screen. Use tech in moderation.
• Try over-the-counter pain medication.
• If aches or pain persist, see a doctor.