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Digital Disabilities and Physical Therapy

Technology and Digital DisabilitiesThe age of technology has great benefits such as the ability to communicate with our family and friends frequently, the ability to receive information quicker and the ability to work more efficiently. However there are also disadvantages of this technology such as the side effects that our bodies experience. As we spend more and more time typing on our keyboards, thumb scrolling, tapping our screens we also begin to experience fatigue in our neck, pain in our thumbs, aches in our forearms and discomfort in our wrists. A new term is trending due to these technology ailments; ever heard of digital disabilities? These include text neck or cell phone elbow.

Text Neck is pain and damage to the neck. This pain is caused from the constant movement of your neck looking down at your tablet, cellphone or other wireless devices for prolonged periods of time. Text neck is rapidly becoming common as the reliance of our wireless devices increases. The longer we keep our heads down from the constant typing, swiping and tapping, the more stress we place on our muscles. The movement of bending the neck to look down happens with other activities besides texting but ithe issues resides with the frequency. Looking down to text, scroll through Facebook or check emails just adds more activity to our spine.

The symptoms of text neck are as follows:

  1. Pain in the Upper Back
  2. Shoulder Pain
  3. Pain down your arm and into your hand

Prevention of text neck:

  1. Keep your phone at eye level.
  2. Put your cellphone down and walk around after 20 or 30 minutes of looking down texting, etc.

Treatment of text neck are as follows:

  1. Increase your core muscles. This will support your upper body, which includes your neck.
  2. Strengthen your neck muscles and increase your neck’s flexibility.

Our trained physical therapists at Fusion Physical Therapy will partner with you to create a customized physical therapy program that will include core muscle exercises as well as neck strengthening exercises to minimize the strain on your neck.

Cell phone elbow, also known as cubital tunnel syndrome, is another trending term. Cubital Tunnel Syndrome is a common nerve compression syndrome in the upper extremities. This nerve compression may occur when the elbow is flexed for longs period of time, such as speaking on the phone.

The symptoms of cell phone elbow are as follows:

  • Pain/Numbness/Tingling in the small and ring fingers as well as the forearm
  • Fatigue/Weakness in hand creating difficulty in opening jars and various other activities

Prevention of Cell Phone Elbow is as follows:

  1. Use a hands-free headset or hands-free mode on your phone
  2. While talking on the phone switch hands frequently

Treatment of Cell Phone Elbow is as follows:

  1. Manual Therapy
  2. Prescription Medication
  3. Surgery

At Fusion Physical Therapy our customized treatment plan will consist of a variety of treatments including manual therapy exercises and activities. We will also educate you on the proper stretches that will place the least amount of stress on the elbow as well as exercises that strengthen the elbow.