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In all of their glory, cell phones and tablets are great. They make us more productive and keep us entertained, no matter where we go. But not everything is always so grand. While these devices may be helpful and arguably vital to our daily lives, the ways in which we use them can put us in a great deal of pain, quite literally.

While on the search for a half-decent picture of people using mobile phones for an article yesterday, I stumbled upon an article from Seattle P-I, detailing statements from California-based doctors who have had an increase in patients complaining of back and neck pain. Dr. Srinivas Ganesh, a sports medicine specialist with Kaiser Permanente, states that we lead much more "sedentary" lifestyles than before, and experience "much more computer interfacing with laptops and PDAs and cell phones. We see a lot of poor posturing, a lot of stress on the wrists."

Some of the most prominent pains in cell phone users are in the hands and thumbs. Erin Allday of Seattle P-I states, "The thumb muscles, which spread across the back of the hand and into the wrist, aren't used to all that up-and-down motion." Smaller keys are making our thumbs work harder, and since we're always texting or typing something, they never get a break. Ganesh went on to describe, "Our fingers are pretty good with the flexion, but every time we lift them up we use tendons that go over the top and side, and that motion can cause a tendonitis to occur right at the wrist." Other cases, according to WebMD, have led to arthritis at the base of the thumb in younger people.

The last time I can honestly report any pain from using a phone was a case of "text thumb" with the BlackBerry Bold 9930. Just to prove how awesome the keyboard is, I wrote an article about how I was glad to finally be back on BlackBerry from the 9930 itself. As per usual, I got a little wordy and the article was longer than I had intended. Right before I finishing up, my thumbs were killing me – well, the muscles and tendons in my hands were.

I know, this case isn't exactly ideal; not everyone writes 1,100-word articles from their BlackBerry everyday. But this experience was like a blast from the past, when I used to BBM like it was going out of style. Between BBM, Facebook and texting, my hands would become quite sore from all of the typing.

Relative to technology, back and neck pains are from poor posture while using such devices. For instance, most of the time while using a cell phone to text or play a game, you will hold the phone somewhere between waist- and shoulder-high. The lower you hold the phone, the more strain you put on your neck. Likewise, if you use a tablet without a stand, you will have to either hold it up by hand or lay it flat on a table and lean forward. Again, poor posture such at this causes strain to the back and neck. And since tablets are perfect couch companions, they can also bring neck strain during down time, too.

I can't say that I ever experience any phone- or mobile-related pains anymore. In fact, since I've been using my tablet with an "ergonomic" (curved) Bluetooth keyboard, I have noticed less discomfort in my wrists as I work and write. And I no longer experience "text thumb" since the switch to touchscreens. This could be because I probably type less or because a simple tap will suffice instead of depressing a stiff, tactile button. (I guess I shouldn't be so hard on software keyboards after all ...)

But I'm curious, pups. Do any of you experience aches and pains from using your phone or tablet? Some of the associate pains could actually be something rather serious like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, arthritis or tendonitis. If you are experiencing pain, pay close attention to your posture and how much strain you may be putting on your body. Adjust your use accordingly or pay the ol' doctor a visit.

Image via WebMD


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