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Gadgets Causing Wrist Pain - Get the Insider Truth Now

Digital Reads Reviews is a blog-haven for book posts and tech tips. Break the myth and get the insider truth about gadgets causing wrist pain.
Shalini
gadgets causing wrist pain

Table of Contents

Gadgets Causing Wrist Pain - Truth or Not

Hey there...

Hi, it is absolutely wonderful to see you here, reading a few of my words on your gadgets causing wrist pain. But if you are reading this on your smartphone or iPad and you have been reading things on it for quite some time, STOP. Put your gadget down for a few minutes, rotate your wrist joints slowly clockwise and anticlockwise, stretch out your fingers, then make a fist. Do this slowly at least ten times. At this time, close your eyes and breathe deeply in order to allow more oxygen to reach your muscles. That will help relax all the fine muscles of your palms and prevent your gadgets from causing wrist pain.

Once you don’t feel the terseness in your muscles, continue reading.

Welcome back, let us jump into this informative post about the link between gadgets and our hands.

Statistics

Apparently, there are more than 8 billion people in the world, and in fact, more than 60% of us use smartphones and tablets. Saying that, this percentage might be higher as of today because now kids in third and fourth grade want a phone. And many of the parents seem to be obliging. So far, my niece is not too fond of cell phones or the time we spend scrolling on them. I am glad as well about that.

Nevertheless, when I go for my walks, I see every single person holding a cell phone in their hand. Mine is in the pocket, never to be removed. Only for emergencies.

The official estimate, according to one of the articles I was reading, is an average person uses anywhere between 3 – 5 hours on it every day, since the advent of social media. I come in the other end of this range, because some days, if I am reading a novel on my phone, this number can, in fact, go up to 6 – 8.

PER DAY

That is a big number where we are doing something that requires us to hold the gadget and make the same repeated movements of our fingers and wrists. What’s more, with such repetitive actions for extended periods, there is bound to be some wear and tear on our muscles. Likewise, pain and decreased function of the joint is bound to happen.

Other Truths about Gadgets Causing Wrist Pain

There are over 30 fine muscles on our hands that work together synchronously in a highly complex manner. You have to take care of them, then they will take care of you.
 
Many of us, including moi, spend too many hours stationary with our eyes and hands fixed on our phones. After some time, holding the phone at a fixed angle, together with the swiping and scrolling takes a toll on our muscles. 

Maybe your wrist aches after a few minutes or the fingers of your hand become numb. Mine does. This duration will obviously keep getting smaller until a point comes when your entire hand starts giving shooting pain.

A Short Anatomy of the Wrist Joint

Our wrist joint is a passageway for tendons and ligaments attached to our bones along with the median nerve in the middle, and the blood vessels. All of this is covered by the transverse carpal ligament which is a sheath of fiber over it. Just flex your wrist joint and your tendons will pop out. 

If any of the elements in this is inflamed, the nerve gets compressed. Consequently, it starts throwing out symptoms, with intermittent tingling to radiating pain. Just to give you a little more information about Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Then again, you might just know about it if you are using your phone almost constantly

Causes of Gadgets Causing Wrist Pain

If any of the tendons become inflamed due to any reason, it could lead to problems of our own making. I have been asked if the pain that occurs after using a phone or tablet or even the Kindle could be Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. It mostly is not. This pain can occur if you hold the gadget or a heavy book for a long time in one awkward position, without allowing the muscles to rest intermittently. It is known as Repetitive Strain Injury.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is caused when there is increased pressure on the median nerve as it crosses the wrist. That is the nerve that more or less crosses the wrist at the midpoint, on the palmar aspect.

Other Nomenclature

Also, “texting thumb” or “text claw” is another known term that is being used often for a finger that has gone into such a spasm through extended use of the gadgets. Although it is not a medical term. Not yet so far. This comes from the constant texting using both or single digits on it and the resulting cramping and protracted soreness that comes with the overuse of our gadgets.

Some medical articles and forum discussions also mention that gamers and the ones who spend the day chatting and texting are more prone to it since the stress impact on wrists and hands, also the forearms is considerable. This might lead to tendonitis and scar tissue formation around the muscles.

Then there is the “cell phone elbow,” which is the numbness or tingling in the ring and pinky fingers that occurs after an elbow is bent for long periods of time.

Signs and Symptoms

Tingling together with numbness in the fingers lasting a few minutes,  and starting at the wrist is generally felt. Sometimes it feels like an electric current, almost a shock-like sensation. From the fingers, these might travel up the wrist and forearm. Mine is restricted to fingers so far and goes away when I give my hand days of rest. 

I sometimes get the feel my fingers are swollen, and I need to crack my knuckles to break the pain. Don’t worry. This is just the beginning of the muscles getting overworked and the nerves getting entrapped inside.

The twinges of pain may progress from occasional to almost constant one. Medically, it is said weakness of the hand might be present, but I haven’t experienced it. Yet.

These can happen not only when you hold the gadget, but also when you hold your paperback. On such tingling days, I can’t hold my hardbound books or medical textbooks. Sometimes, shaking out my hands helps me relieve myself of these symptoms

Over time, I am scared these may become constant. So I have days of bingeing on Netflix. Yesterday was one such day. 

Age and Pain

However, if you are Generation Z or X, you might not feel the pain now because your muscle fibers regenerate at a faster speed. But it is equally important to remember that would decrease as your bodies age. For me, age is just a number, but it is also a known medical fact the speed of healing decreases as that number increases.

Although we doctors keep saying it is due to increased cell phone use, in reality, there is no definitive cause by which we can affirm it to be. Studies too, so far, have not linked cell phones to be the exclusive cause of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Sometimes it just happens. Many people get no symptoms on using cell phones for more than 8 hours. Whereas some may be anatomically predisposed to getting symptoms even after a couple of hours of usage. 

Such tingling, numbness, and twinges of pain can be felt even if they sleep in abnormal positions at night. It is just that the medical world is seeing a rise in such symptoms with increased cell phone usage.

However, if you already have had the signs of this syndrome, it is found that the symptoms get exacerbated with the use of gadgets and phones. Especially if you hold a cell phone to your ear for long calls. So, if you are alone and the information discussed is not of sensitive nature, put the phone on speaker and continue talking.

Prevention of Your Gadgets Causing Wrist Pain

You know the adage – Prevention is better than cure. So true in medicine. A rule of thumb, as we docs say, avoid keeping your wrist in one position for longer durations of time. Moving your wrist joint and your fingers would help prevent stiffness from setting in and keep all the tendons and nerves and blood vessels in the wrist gliding smoothly.

If you have to hold your gadget, just ensure the wrist is in the optimum position, neither flexed nor extended. Maybe you could just prop up your gadget on a couple of pillows and continue reading. 

A few ideas from Amazon that I could manage to get. I haven’t used all of them, only the Amazon Basics stand. If you have done so, maybe you could tell me how effective they are in comments so that others reading this will benefit. 

To note, down below are the affiliated links so that I can maintain this site. 

phone support stand
Amazon UK
tablet cushion
Amazon UK
tablet support
Amazon UK
iPad stand support 2
Amazon UK
tablet seat
Amazon UK
kindle stand
Amazon UK

The elders in my house have always said yoga and triggering the energy points in the body will help to accelerate healing. My family swears by it. Unfortunately, I haven’t started doing it. One of those New Year resolutions I seem to be breaking.

Steps to try if your Gadgets Cause Wrist Pain

There are a few things that you can try before rushing to your doctor.

  1. Take a break between your long sessions of reading. Prop up your device on any of the different supports available on Amazon so your hand muscles don’t have to take up the entire weight of the gadget. Remember they have already been overworked. Use hands-free if you want to speak for long hours.
  2. Intermittently, at least every hour of your reading, perform the hand and wrist exercises to stretch the muscles.
  3. If the pain is too much, you can wear the wrist brace at night to keep the wrist joint at the optimum position so that the muscles get the rest they deserve.
  4. Modify hand activities. If you are used to holding your phone or kindle or iPad with one hand, change it and use the opposite hand. Even changing the functions of the buttons of your gadget will trigger the opposite hand to be used more.
  5. We love protecting our gadgets with different cases. Some of them are really heavy. When you have to use your gadget for a longer time, just pull the gadget out from that case, and notice the difference.
  6. Overall exercising all the muscles of the body and increasing the tone would help. Adding a bit more protein to the diet would help those muscle fibers to form.
  7. If your fingers start cramping and become spasmed into a frozen position, remember your phone is supposed to help you. So, become smart, at least smarter than your cell phone, and use the other apps and functions already embedded in the gadget. Use voice-to-text or allow Siri/Google Assistant to read out to you. 

What next, if the Damage is Already Done?

If the pain is too excruciating, over-the-counter painkillers would help. Look at the dosage written on the box and don’t go overboard with it. Recently, even paracetamol has been known to cause adverse reactions.

Go on a complete social media and internet detox and get away from gadgets. Move toward nature. Sink your fingers into the soil, and feel the rejuvenation begin to happen. Start with light gardening. For the love of everything wonderful, don’t lift those heavy pots. They might further damage the muscles. Allow your muscles to heal over the week.

For me, gentle icing of the wrist joint works because they bring down inflammation. This is not the definitive medical advice because ice may cause further contraction of those damaged muscles, and that can further worsen your symptoms. Each of our bodies is different. Ice works best for me. Lukewarm water might just help to soothe those painful muscles for you.

Surgical Line of Treatment

Finally, if these small home remedies do not work for you, get a formal appointment with your medical practitioner or an orthopedist or a hand specialist, whatever is present in your country. 

I am not too keen on surgery for carpal tunnel and or any other syndrome of the fine muscles of the hand. So, I would prefer to try all of these to get relief from my symptoms.  

To complete this post, I am adding the medical line of treatment

Mild cases are advised a splint to keep pressure away from the elbow and wrist or wearing a pad, especially while sleeping to avoid the involuntary over-flexion of said wrist or elbow.

As mentioned above, stronger analgesics and steroids may be prescribed to relieve pain.

Lastly, surgery is advised only where the nerve compression is very severe, to release the pressure on the nerves.

To Summarize

Technology is undoubtedly a big part of our lives, cell phones and tablets particularly. Do you ever, in any case, put down the phone in the middle of an important conversation or stop reading an exciting scene, even though your palm muscles are protesting? I surely don’t do that.

This is undoubtedly the same story with the new generation who are more into their laptops and cellphones. I personally love using paper and pen. My handwriting might not be the best, sometimes not legible to me, but there is something so permanent about it, as if I am leaving a mark forever.

After so many hours of being on our gadgets, the chances of developing symptoms are high. It might not be Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. But you have to remember that holding the gadgets or even the big books, especially hardbound ones, for long periods without recovery time and in prolonged awkward positions would increase your chances of injury.

And, to clarify, you are not the only one. At the time of writing, rather dictating this post, I am also one of you. Just take a break after reading this post, go for a walk, or just be with yourself. 

Give your hands the love they deserve.

Let me know in comments if you do use the stands available to prop up your gadgets. 

Check out the books on Kindle Unlimited available on Amazon. 

I downloaded the digital version of the book from an online retail, and this is my journey down its pages, straight from the heart. STRICTLY HONEST and UNBIASED.

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One Response

  1. No, I don’t use any gadget to prop my cell phone, and I am on my laptop for long periods–now have a watch that tells me to get up and move! However, I also do a lot of other things and any time I can listen to an audiobook, I’ll use the buds. I’m lucky–after 60+ years–some intensively banging on old typewriters and then into laptops, I’ve had few problems.

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