Kessler Institute reminds users of various tactile-focused means of technology that overuse can lead to repetitive stress injuries, and provides tips to help tech-lovers give their hands some love and prevent them.

Increasing use of smartphones, tablets, and game consoles are leading to a dramatic rise of injuries to the hands, wrists and elbows, possibly leading to ruptured tendons and permanent loss of function.

It can also lead to “tech neck” and pain in the shoulders and back from hunching over and looking down at one’s devices, suggest Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, in a media release.

“We are more connected than ever, and all of this connectivity involves the use our hands,” said Joseph Valenza, MD, director of pain management at Kessler.

“Overuse, however, can quickly lead to numbness, pain and loss of function. We’ve seen an alarming increase in tech-related injuries in recent years. That’s why it’s important for everyone to be aware of the symptoms of these ‘digital injuries’ and seek treatment before more serious complications arise,” he adds, per the release.

Norma Glennon, OT, CHT, Kessler Institute, concurs: “Whether typing or texting, playing games or surfing the Internet, the use of these devices and our increasing dependency on them puts us all at risk. The continuous pressure of hitting the keys, tapping a screen, or even holding a device can affect the nerves, muscles and tendons in the hand, wrist, elbow and shoulder—and cause any of a number of what are called repetitive stress injuries.”

Common types of repetitive stress injuries (RSIs), the release notes, include “texting thumb” or De Quervain’s tenosynovitis, an inflammation in the tendons that leads to pain and cramping; “trigger finger” (stenosing tenosynovitis), causing the thumb or other fingers to lock or snap; and “text claw,” from holding devices for long periods of time, which can cause pain, cramping, and loss of hand and wrist function.

More common RSIs include carpal tunnel syndrome, marked by pain, swelling, tingling and numbness in the hand and wrist; and “tennis” or “selfie elbow” (epicondylitis) and “cell phone elbow” (cubital tunnel syndrome), which can produce aching, burning and numbness in the hand, forearm, and elbow.

To help prevent such injuries, Kessler Institute recommends that users use common sense and take regular breaks from their devices throughout the day.

Among the injury-prevention tips, Kessler Institute recommends that users watch for early warning signs, such as tingling, pain, or numbness; stop what one is doing if one is experiencing pain; rest the affected fingers, hand, and wrist; change one’s habits and disconnect regularly; and give one’s thumbs a break by switching hands, or using a stylus or a text-to-talk feature.

In addition, users are recommended to perform “stretch and roll” exercises to help alleviate muscle fatigue; use a neutral grip, with one’s wrist straight, while holding the device; be mindful of one’s posture, hand and body positioning, and device placement; pay attention to whatever discomfort one is feeling; and seek medical attention regarding treatment.

“The best ‘cure’ for tech-related injuries is prevention—using devices wisely, taking breaks, and listening to your body for signs of discomfort. Unfortunately, given the extent to which we rely on our mobile devices, we’re really just one click away from a ‘digital disability,’ ” Valenza states.

[Source(s): Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, PR Newswire]