Several studies over the past many years have warned about the harmful effects of smartphone on various aspects of health. Excessive use of smartphone can affect quality of sleep, impact memory and learning skills and thus is becoming a cause of concern in today’s times when children are glued to screen all the time. Bad posture during smartphone use can also cause a number of issues. Consistent forward neck posture can lead to injury to the structure of the cervical and lumbar spine, as well as ligaments. It can also lead to joint disorders in even young people. (Also read: Can long conversations on cellphone lead to high blood pressure? Experts explain)
“In recent times, the increasing problem of joint disorders, especially in younger kids is a major cause of concern. One of the reasons behind people coming with joint issues is due to overuse of mobile phones which has now become an indispensable part of life. People are using them to work, use social media, connect with friends and family, and for their everyday needs such as alarms, shopping, and so on. Long-term use of mobile phones can have adverse effects on a person in many ways and joint damage can be one of them,” says Dr Shaloo Bhasin Gagneja, Senior Consultant – Rheumatology, Manipal Hospitals Gurugram.
Dr Gangneja also elaborates on all the joint issues smartphone use can cause:
1. It can cause neck and shoulder pain: Daily use of smartphones for more than two to three hours can lead to neck and shoulder pain and low back pain. Especially, if we use these phones while lying down.
2. Risk of osteoarthritis: Intensive use of thumb typing can lead to osteoarthritis of the first carpometacarpal joint. It has been seen in the young population, although osteoarthritis is the disease of the elderly, some cases have been seen where young people have the degeneration of the carpometacarpal joint because of overuse.
3. De Quervain’s tenosynovitis: it is characterized by pain over the radial aspect of the wrist or on the movement of the hand because of persistent use of hands for using the mobile phone.
4. Cramping and deformed elbows: This can occur due to keeping the elbow bend at all times while using smartphones.
5. Hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS): Children who spend a long time playing mobile games can develop a condition called Hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS). The kids develop excessive pain in the hand when they use mobile and when they play games for many hours.
6. Repetitive strain to joints and ligaments: It causes pain, tingling, numbness, or deformity in the hand and wrist.
“To avoid these challenges, both hands should be used while using mobile phones and a statutory health warning should be put on all mobiles and devices to state how they should be used and the dangers of over-using. The warning should be present while selling the product and a pop-up warning of health risks should also come when people use mobile phones for long hours,” says Dr Gagneja.