Lifewatch: cell phone elbow

Reported by Claire Hosmann - bio|email

(WECT) - Pain in your arm lately? Tingling in your fingers? It might be the phone you're always holding to your ear.  It's a problem doctors call "cell phone elbow."

"This can be severely painful," said Edwin Hall, an occupational therapist. "It can stay like that for weeks. It could stay like that for months."

Hall has treated it many times.

"Loss of grip, loss of feeling, dropping objects, loss of strength and coordination."

The medical name for it is Cubital Tunnel Syndrome.  It happens when you bend your elbow more than 90 degrees for an extended period of time.

That cuts off blood supply to the nerve that runs from your shoulder through your elbow and into your hand.

To avoid problems you can try switching hands frequently, but sometimes that only causes problems in both arms. The best prevention is a cordless headset.

"It's either that or hang up the phone," said Hall. "And that cell habit's a hard one to break."

The worst cases of cell phone elbow, if left untreated, can even require surgery.

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome can also be caused by typing with your arms in the wrong position, just like the more common Carpal Tunnel Syndrome that causes pain in the wrists.

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome doesn't affect only cell phone addicts. Elderly people who rest their elbows on the arm of a chair can develop the syndrome, as can truckers and people who use wheelchairs who lean on their elbow.

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