by Al Sacco

Move Over “BlackBerry Thumb,” Here Comes “Cellphone Elbow”

Jun 10, 20092 mins
Computers and PeripheralsData CenteriPhone

A new medical report warns of the dangers of "Cellphone Elbow."

You’ve probably heard of the ailment commonly referred to as “BlackBerry Thumb.” The condition, not unlike carpal-tunnel syndrome of the wrist, causes stiffness, tingling, discomfort–even pain–in the thumbs and hands. And it’s a result of over-employing your thumbs and the joints that connect them to your hands, often while typing on some sort of mobile device. A BlackBerry, for instance–hence the clever name.

image of hand holding a BlackBerry
BlackBerry Overuse can Supposedly Result in Both “BlackBerry Thumb” and “Cellphone Elbow”

Well, now the problem seems to growing along with the vast number of folks switching from feature-phones to smartphones&and spreading. Literally. A new paper published in the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine details cubital tunnel syndrome, or “Cellphone Elbow,” which it says it the second most common form or nerve compression syndrome behind carpal tunnel.

Cellphone Elbow comes about when abnormal pressure is applied to nerves in the forearms for extended periods of time, impeding the flow of blood and leading to discomfort and pain throughout the elbow and forearm region, according to Drs. Michael Darowish, Jeffrey Lawton, and Peter Evans, who penned the Cleveland journal paper. And it can supposedly result in permanent damage.

Then again, a recent Scientific American piece on the subject of Cellphone Elbow suggests the whole thing may be blown way out of proportion. Michael Hausman, chief of hand and elbow surgery at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, says in the story that the condition isn’t really caused by anything in particular and that the vast majority of cellphone users never experience any such symptoms.

I tend to agree with Hausman, but if you think you’re already afflicted by Cellphone Elbow–or BlackBerry Thumb–have no fear, Dr. Glen D. Cohen, M.D., recently compiled a list of “treatments”…though you could just take my advice–which amounts to about the same thing–and simply reduce the amount of typing you’re doing via mobile device. But that’s just me.

On the other hand–pun proudly intended–if you’ve had thumb surgery to improve your typing speed, you probably need more help than I or any physician under the sun could possibly provide….



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