Orthopedic specialists are examining cases of what’s being called “cell phone elbow”.
Medically known as cubital tunnel syndrome, cell phone elbow is caused by bending your elbow too tightly for too long. You can develop it from too much talking on the phone.
Bettye Weihs says she experiences severe pain from holding her phone up to her ear all day long. “On my cell phone or any phone really, elbow, neck, you know moving back and forth from ear to ear trying to make sure you’re not hurting one arm or hurting your neck too much.”
Doctor Robert McIver says, Bettye’s likely experiencing cell phone elbow. “What cell phone elbow is, is it’s actually an increased pressure on the ulnar nerve, which is a nerve that runs right behind your elbow, and it’s caused by prolonged positioning of having your elbow flexed or bent passed 90 degrees and holding it to your ear.”
Doctor McIver says there are other ways patients can develop cubital tunnel syndrome as well. “It can be from sitting on your elbow too long, by holding your elbow bent while you’re sleeping at night for a longer period of time, all of them ultimately ending up in the same numbness and tingling going down your ring and your pinky finger and on the outside of your arm, all stopping at the elbow.”
In the early stages, cubital tunnel syndrome typically heals with time, but severe cases can lead to permanent nerve damage.
Doctor McIver says cell phone elbow is different than tennis and golfer’s elbow. Tennis elbow involves the muscles on the outside of your elbow, while golfer’s elbow involves muscles on the inside of your elbow. Both are a burning and aching type of pain.
Cell phone elbow affects the nerves, and causes a tingling feeling down your arm.
If you start developing a problem, Doctor McIver recommends switching your phone to the other hand until the pain goes away, and consider buying a hands-free headset.