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Selfie elbow

The smartphone strikes back

When NBC journalist Hoda Kotb visited an orthopaedist complaining of a sore arm, she was asked if she played tennis or ping pong. After telling him no, he dug a little further. Going through her daily routine, he identified the problem as being her habit of taking up to 40 selfies at a time. The repetitive movement, combined with the strain caused by the angle of the raised arm, had led to what is now being recognized as "selfie elbow".

Similar to carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow, the solution seems obvious once it's pointed out - just take less, or get someone else to take the picture.

If it gets too bad the advice is to ice your elbow, do specal exercises and take painkilers to reduce the inflammation. 

Repetition, repetition, repetition

Sports therapists were quick to pick up on the symptoms. One told Elle US:

We used to see it with Blackberry phones—it was a real thing. People would get tendinitis in their thumb because they were on their Blackberries all the time.

Selfie sticks could also help, but the problem with those is that the repetitive movement is only transferred to a slightly different part of the body. It is the quantity of the same movement which is causing the issue.

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Younger people affected more

Doctors are also reporting more teens being affected than other age groups.

The danger signs are present even if you haven't had any pain yet. Taking too many, on too many days puts you at risk, and in todays Facebook/Snapchat/Instagram world, that means the younger generation.

Users at risk are advised to perform a "warm up" exercise before taking a selfie. If the problem becomes more serious, the treatment includes:

  • Medication
  • Cold Packs
  • Elastic supports
  • Splint
  • Physiotherapy
  • Steriod injections
  • Surgery

So - kids - either lay off them a while, or take a bucket of ice wherever you go ;-)