We orthopedic surgeons are used to treating tennis elbow, a condition caused by overuse of muscles. The muscle group which extends our wrist originates from a point on the outer aspect of our elbow. Repeated overuse of these muscles can cause soreness on that point. Simple task like pouring water from a bottle become painful.
I recently saw a 16 year old with similar complaints and I was asking her about the activities she does in a day. I was telling her about the tennis elbow part and she came out with this new thing…She told me that she was a selfie addict and sheepishly asked me if that would cause a ”tennis elbow’?
It then dawned upon me that taking a Selfie puts your elbow in an unnatural extended position and one tends to then flex the wrist further to get a good camera angle…a sure shot recipe of getting a muscle injury.
Just next to my clinic in Mumbai is a famous Selfie point. Like Sherlock Holmes I went there one evening and started observing youngsters gathered there. Lo behold most of them were suing a similar posture and very few were flexing their elbow while taking a Selfie.
The treatment of this condition is like any other overuse injury. Rest and ice packs and if the pain is too much an anti – inflammatory drug.
Using a Selfie stick is highly recommended for Selfie addicts.
We also see a lot of youngsters with mechanical neck pain. I used to attribute this to long hours in front of a computer screen and bad posture to this problem. Mind you x-rays are normal in these cases. The standard recommendation is to correct the neck posture at all times and do simple neck exercises.
Housewives who have a very low platform at home tend to get this kind of pain as they abnormally bend their neck to perform simple tasks. I realized that like Selfie elbow these neck posture is seen in Whatsapp addicts as well. I have devised a new term called the Whatsapp neck! Unlike Selfie elbow which I see predominantly in youngsters the whats app neck is seen in all age groups. Patients above 50 year suffer more from Whatsapp neck since they already have age related wear and tear in their spine!
So how do we avoid a Whatsapp neck?
Hold your phone horizontally and rest your elbows on a table or an arm chair and see the screen at eye levels. And yes don’t see your messages while walking!
My local barber told me another fascinating thing. He is devising aprons in which there would be a plastic window for the customer to see his phone! A sure shot way of getting neck pain if you see messages with your neck bent while you get your hair cut!