Are Video Games & Cell Phones Causing A Pain Epidemic?

Are you texting or gaming your way to arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome?

 A new generation of young people are beginning to feel the effects of arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome from overuse of their cell phones and video game consoles. 

Recent research has definitively demonstrated that repetitive motions in combination with bad posture puts excessive stress on the joints, muscles, and tendons. This added stress is resulting in injuries that many medical professionals typically do not see in a younger population.

This first began to occur with the rise in popularity of BlackBerry devices. The tactile keyboards of the blackberries created a huge boom in mobile messaging that resulted in users contracting repetitive stress injuries.

A 2011 study conducted by the European League Against Rheumatism found that children 9 to 15 years old were developing clinically significant joint pain in their fingers and wrists caused by excessive texting and from playing videogames like Xbox or PlayStation.

Because this is such a recent phenomenon, there has not been much longitudinal research conducted to truly understand the long-term risks associated with the combined effect of cell phone and video game use in the younger populations.

This is a whole new chronic pain population that hasn’t been seen before by pain management professionals. They are presenting with repetitive stress injuries that often include pain in the elbows, wrists, neck, shoulders, hands as well as symptoms of nerve-pain-like numbness, tingling and a depletion of strength.

Avoiding Repetitive Stress Injuries And Arthritis

RSI Avoidance Tips and Strategies

  • The most effective means of preventing osteoarthritis or injuries and pain related to repetitive stress is avoidance. What this means for each individual will doubtlessly vary.
  • For instance, if an individual has suffered a repetitive stress injury on account of playing Halo on their Xbox for four hours a day, seven days a week, they will need to cut down on their use.
  • For younger adults, this can be especially challenging. Video games today are highly immersive and have a social component, as well. Many younger people socialize on these devices, teaming up with their friends after school in online, virtual worlds to do battle or play other strategic, collaborative games with each other. Parents will need to be on the lookout for the signs of repetitive stress injury and to help their children manage their use of entertainment devices.
  • For avid smartphone users, who have developed stress injuries on account of their messaging habits, it may make sense to designate a period of the day where you will not use your phone. Perhaps you turn your phone off at 8 PM and don’t use it again until the morning.
  • Another effective way of managing repetitive stress injury for mobile phone users is to use the transcription functionality that most smartphones possess nowadays. Try speaking to your device instead of typing out messages. While this may seem funny or strange and beginning, it is actually a highly efficient way of communicating, lessening the extent of your daily typing that is causing you pain.

Final Thoughts

Perhaps the best advice that can be given to this new population of individuals at risk for chronic pain disorders is to try to take care of their bodies more diligently.

It is especially important to observe good posture. Take breaks from the video game and mobile phone messaging. You will want to avoid eventually requiring Cortizone injections or even surgery to reduce or eliminate the pain of arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome.