Sunday, September 19, 2010

The perils of using a cellphone

Your phone can be such a pain

SINGAPORE : For the past decade, Fred (not his real name) has been suffering from shoulder and neck aches. An IT professional, he attributes his chronic aches to long years of computer work and bad posture.

The aches worsened when he began using a Blackberry several years ago. While they aren't bad enough to warrant an MC or affect productivity, the 51-year-old said they can be a real mood dampener.

Fred's case isn't unusual. Dr Ho Kok Yuen, an anaesthesiologist and clinical director for pain management at Raffles Hospital, said more severe cases of neck and shoulder pain are on the rise.

The culprit? Mobile gadgets.

At his pain clinic, Dr Ho sees an average of 10 to 20 severe cases a month - a 10 to 20 per cent hike from three years ago. The figure, said Dr Ho, is merely the tip of the iceberg as most patients with neck pain related to mobile gadget overuse visit GPs.

Prolonged use of handheld gadgets is more commonly associated with a condition called repetitive strain injury (RSI), which typically affects the thumb and wrists, said Dr Ho.

However, many people are unaware that overusing these electronic devices can also affect other areas of the body such as the neck and back.

"In order to view these small devices, we have to adopt a hunched-over position with our necks bent forward, shoulders stooped and the back rounded. Maintaining this unnatural position for prolonged periods leads to muscle pain, spasm, stiffness and tension in the neck and back," said Dr Ho.

Neck and back pain is typically treated using stretching and strengthening exercises, physiotherapy and massages. However, more severe cases of chronic neck pain may require acupuncture treatment, muscle trigger point injections, facet joint steroid injections or radio frequency treatment, said Dr Ho.

Presently, Fred keeps his neck ache in check with physiotherapy sessions and by taking a daily dose of muscle relaxant medication. "I realised that my aches got very bad whenever I use my Blackberry for prolonged periods. Now, I limit myself to using it for only three hours a day, and watch my posture while using it," he said.

Short of getting rid your beloved tech gadgets, Dr Ho said you can protect yourself by watching your posture, using both hands to type and reducing your grip while holding your handheld gadget.

"Take breaks after 20 minutes of use or stop when it hurts. In addition, stretch often to avoid prolonged neck stiffness," he advised.

- TODAY/il


From ChannelNewsAsia.com; source article is below:
Your phone can be such a pain
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