New illness: Treat the thumb of a cell phone correctly
It is hard to imagine our everyday life without smartphones. However, the constant use of small devices can have health consequences; one of them is the so-called "cell phone thumb". Experts explain what can help those affected.
Mobile phone owners activate their device over 50 times a day
Mobile phones and smartphones have become an indispensable everyday companion for many people. Especially for a large part of the younger population, life without the small devices is hardly imaginable these days. For example, a study showed that many children can only go 30 minutes without a cell phone before they experience withdrawal symptoms. But adults can hardly keep their hands off it either: According to a study by researchers at the University of Bonn, cell phone owners activate their device on average 53 times a day. This can have health consequences: Intensive use of mobile phones favors “phone diseases” such as the “mobile phone thumb”. Experts explain what can be done about it.
Smartphone use with health consequences
It has long been known that the increasingly intensive use of smartphones does not remain without health consequences.
Studies have shown that such devices interfere with sleep and lead to speech and concentration problems in children and adolescents.
In addition, experts assume that myopia will increase due to constant smartphone use.
Furthermore, posture with a lowered head threatens postural damage such as neck tension.
And last but not least, people who constantly text, surf and whatsapp risk that they get thumb pain.
New "orthopedic" lifestyle disease
According to a statement from the University Hospital Leipzig (UKL), in Germany people now speak of the "cell phone thumb", in English-speaking countries of "WhatsAppitis" or "WhatsApp Disease" - the smartphone has brought the world a new "orthopedic" disease of civilization .
"When using the smartphone with one hand, the thumb is overstressed," says Prof. Dr. Stefan Langer, Head of Plastic, Aesthetic and Special Hand Surgery at the Clinic for Orthopedics, Trauma Surgery and Plastic Surgery at Leipzig University Hospital.
"This increases with the increasing size of the cell phone displays - and with the urge to be constantly on the go on the social networks."
Strongest finger of the human hand
As the experts explain in the communication, the thumb is "designed" to support gripping the hand.
The clasp is a typical movement for the strongest finger of the human hand; however, no permanent stretching or spreading movement.
"The continued movement of the thumb towards the little finger is strenuous and leads to pain in the wrist on the thumb," explains Prof. Langer.
“The typical patient today is 15 to 25 years old, actually very healthy and of course totally networked. In the past, the typical patient was a 65-year-old woman who worked all her life. She suffered from wear and tear diseases, which included classic tendonitis in the thumb area. "
Leave the cell phone out until the pain is gone
According to the experts, the difference from today to earlier in patient age and physical constitution is not only statistically interesting, but also robs therapists of therapeutic options.
“The older lady was often given a cortisone injection, the pain subsided, the inflammation subsided. We only had to operate and open the tendon compartment if necessary, ”said the expert.
“With a clear conscience, I cannot give the young cell phone user a cortisone: the patient or tendon still has life in front of them. There can still be real medical problems in which cortisone is indispensable, ”says Prof. Langer.
"There is no real reason for an operation either. I can only advise the young patient: omit the cell phone. With a little patience, the pain subsides after a week. "
Occupational therapists can also help
Occupational therapists can also help, for example Norina Weisenbilder from the Central Institution for Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation at the UKL.
“At every stop, I see my future patients standing - head tilted, rounded back and thumb always in motion. In the long run, muscle tension is the logical consequence. First the big flexion of the thumb, then the forearm, the shoulder, the neck, ”says the expert.
Ergotherapists and physiotherapists master techniques that loosen fascia, muscles and connective tissue. Kinesio tape on the thumb saddle joint and on the thumb side of the forearm can also help stabilize the long flexion of the thumb.
"I advise cell phone typists to use both thumbs at the same time," advises the occupational therapist and physiotherapist.
“This means that the thumbs do not have to travel long distances on the display, so they are not overstretched. And in general, the gimmicks on mobile phones should be kept within limits. Then the thumb won't hurt either. "
Do not over-treat the patient
Meanwhile, Prof. Langer draws attention to the fact that cell phone addiction and its medical consequences are also factored in by general practitioners.
“I want to avoid over-therapy quickly. So if a young person comes with pain in his hand, you don't have to have an X-ray, CT or even an MRI immediately, ”says the Leipzig surgeon.
“An inexpensive ultrasound scan usually makes the swollen tendon visible. The manual therapy options also do not have to be explained right away. Quiet is sometimes enough. It would be best, "says Prof. Langer," if the doctor could temporarily ban the cell phone, as with your own children. "(Ad)