Back in the 90s and early 2000s walking around with a Walkman, and later an iPod with headphones was seen as the trendiest thing among the tech geeks. And almost every decade the trends in the technology world keep changing. Now, the only trend seems to be walking around with a fancy smartphone and clicking selfies and chatting on the go.
From historical sites to restaurants and hotels to public transport systems, you will find many people taking portraits of themselves on their phones, popularly referred to as taking a "selfie", and texting on their phones almost unconsciously. It won't be wrong to call the selfie as the 'craze of the decade'.
But this craze has gotten so severe that it has become a serious health concern. Not only does the selfie craze and constant texting affect our social and psychological well-being but now it seems that an increasing number of young millennials are complaining of physical ailments associated with the acts too - that of sore wrists and iPhone thumbs, thanks to holding the hand out for clicking that perfect selfie and holding the phone for texting over long periods of time.
What is "Selfie Wrist"?
According to a leading medical expert, repeatedly taking selfies has put a growing number of youngsters mostly between the ages 18 to 35 years at a higher risk of developing a painful nerve condition in the wrist. The anomaly is being dubbed "selfie wrist" and is caused due to the way people contort their wrists while taking selfies.
Speaking to The Sunday Times, Dr Raj Ragoowansi, a consultant plastic surgeon based in central London, said that he has been seeing a large number of young millennials presenting symptoms of selfie wrist, which he claims is a form of carpal tunnel syndrome caused by frequently turning and twisting the wrists while capturing an Instagram worthy selfie.
The condition causes a sharp pain and numbness in the wrist and sometimes a tingling sensation is also experienced in the wrist and fingers. The doctor warns that the most severe cases sometimes even require surgery.
Most unfavorable position
Dr. Ragoowansi said:"I have seen a 30% to 40% increase in patients, men and women, between the ages of 18 and 35 presenting with carpal tunnel syndrome, which I rarely used to see."
He goes on to further add that "the wrist holding the camera phone is in a flexed position: that is the most unfavorable position."
The doctor warns that the carpal tunnel is an "unforgiving space in the wrist" and if people keep on taking selfies, the blood supply of the nerve in the tunnel will be compromised, causing pain and numbness.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused when the median nerve in the arm becomes pressed or squeezed, thereby causing a burning or tingling sensation and numbness in the wrist. The median nerve travels from the forearm to the palm of the hand and runs through a narrow passage in the wrist which is called the carpal tunnel.
Minor symptoms of selfie wrist include pins and needles in the fingers, hand or sometimes the entire arm. These can be treated with over the counter painkillers and some hand exercises. However, if the symptoms are too high then people would need injections or even surgery to relieve the pressure that is being placed on the median nerve.
Another possible treatment is by wearing a wrist splint to keep the wrist joint stable and straight. The effect of selfie wrist is so bad that Dr. Ragoowansi recollected how a 26-year old patient he treated was suffering from numbness so severe that he was unable to grip.
Meanwhile, selfie wrist isn't the only ailment a growing number of young millennials seem to be suffering from, there's also the "iPhone thumb." Dr. Ragoowansi added that it's not just selfies but texting too that's also becoming a major cause of concern. He says that he is seeing a number of cases of another ailment dubbed iPhone thumb which is caused by how you hold your phone while typing or chatting. He says, "We're also seeing 'iPhone thumb' wherrby if you keep on using your thumb, you will get thumb-based pain, due to joint or tendon inflammation."
The symptoms of iPhone thumb are similar to that of selfie wrist with the sufferer experiencing pain, tingling sensation and numbness in the thumb as a result of prolonged texting on a phone.
Due to these symptoms becoming more commonplace, the doctor now asks most of his patients to document in detail their mobile phone usage.
A famous case of selfie wrist can be recalled when last year, reality star Kim Kardashian was diagnosed with selfie wrist. She revealed in a 2018 interview that she wasn't taking selfies anymore because she didn't like them. But in an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians she admitted that doctors advised her to stop taking selfies because she had developed carpal tunnel syndrome.