'Cell Phone Elbow' On The Rise

Kink In Elbow Can Cause Nerve Damage

The age of sports injuries like tennis elbow, golf elbow and hyper-extending the elbow, is giving way to a new age of technology- related injuries.

Move over Nintendo thumb and make way for cell phone elbow.

The condition, which causes numbness and tingling in the fingers, is caused by the way someone holds a cell phone.

According to the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine, the medical term for the condition is cubital tunnel syndrome and was the subject of a recent study at the Cleveland Clinic.

Doctors who took part in the study liken it to putting a kink in a garden hose.

When the patient bends their elbow for extended periods of time, doctors said, they cut off the blood flow and compress the nerve, causing their pinkie and ring fingers to go numb or worse.

The study found that extended bending of the elbow past a 90-degree angle can cause the nerve that runs along the bony part of the elbow to misfire or short circuit, causing numbness, tingling or an aching forearm and hand.

There are no solid figures on exactly how many people have cell phone elbow, but hand specialists at the Cleveland Clinic said the incidence is increasing along with the 3.3 billion cell phone service contracts active worldwide.

The University of Virginia lists the early symptoms as a feeling comparable to hitting a funny bone.

They include numbness in the hand and/or ring and pinkie finger, hand pain and hand and thumb clumsiness due to muscle weakness.

Doctors said if the symptoms persist it could affect a person's ability to type and write and in severe cases, the ring and pinkie fingers can become clawed.

Not ready to give up the cell phone?

Doctors at the Cleveland Clinic suggest switching hands back and forth while talking on a cellular phone to relieve the pinch.

They also recommend trying to avoid activities that require bending the elbow tighter than 90 degrees for more than a couple of minutes.

For more information on cubital tunnel syndrome:

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