Technology has provided new medical treatments, ways to communicate, and entertainment options, but it’s also taking a toll on the bodies of those who use it. Squinting at small screens, selfie-induced tennis elbow, and sitting hunched over computer keyboards, tablets, and video game systems are just some of the ways in which people are causing injury to themselves.
An increasing number of people are seeking physical therapy to relieve pain, tension and injuries involving the neck, shoulder and back, along with stress-related conditions that include migraines and TMJ pain.
Problems with the spine, wrists and palms of the hand are common among those who spend an excessive amount of time playing video games, using computers and talking on cell phones. “Trigger thumb” is the result of tightly gripping video game controllers and smartphones.
Carpal tunnel and repetitive motion injuries are occurring in individuals who text (texting thumb), use keyboards, play video games and take a lot of selfies (selfie elbow). It causes injury to muscles, nerves and tendons that produce pain, tingling and numbness.
Individuals who spend a lot of time on their cellphones or who are sensitive to electromagnetic fields are experiencing tinnitus, a persistent ringing in the ear. On the opposite end of the spectrum are people who wear headphones to block out noise pollution, only to suffer injuries from walking into traffic.
The popular names of the injuries may change, but the established treatments of physical therapy can treat, correct and heal all the injuries that technology engenders. Physical therapy treatments are effective for:
- Relieving pain
- Aligning the spine and neck
- Improving posture
- Relaxing tensed muscles
- Relieving pressure on the neurological system
- Addressing migraines and TMJ pain
- Avoiding surgery
The flashing lights and movements of video games can also produce seizures in those who are susceptible. It’s known as photosensitive epilepsy and can occur when people are exposed to the flickering, bright lights and movement patterns of video games. Strobe lights at clubs and the lights of emergency vehicles can also trigger an episode.
Computer vision syndrome (CVS) is occurring in people who use computers more than two hours per day, resulting in headaches, dry eyes and blurred vision. People who play video games designed to encourage people to exercise and dance are experiencing strains and sprains from the unaccustomed movements.
One of the best ways you can pamper yourself is with a neck and spinal alignment. Your physical therapist will make adjustments that place the spine in the correct position to relieve pressure on soft tissues and the neurological system.
Exercise may seem counter-productive for a body that’s already in pain, but your physical therapist can create a custom program of exercises that will help reduce the risk of injuries. If an injury has already occurred, your physical therapist can provide treatment to relieve pain and help you heal.
Heat, cryotherapies, electro-stimulation, and therapeutic massage are effective for reducing swelling, inflammation and pain from a wide range of tech-related injuries. Acupuncture and dry needling may also be employed and the therapies have the advantage of being equally applicable for multiple areas of the body.
If you find yourself tensing up while talking on the phone, playing video games, or using your computer or phone, you may be among the thousands of people that suffer from migraines and TMJ pain. Clenching the teeth places pressure on the jaw joint that can lead to pain and nerve impairment, conditions that can be remedied with physical therapy.
Your physical therapist can provide suggestions and recommendations on adaptive aids and ergonomic accommodations at home and work to mitigate the risk of injury and pain. If you’re suffering with carpal tunnel syndrome, your therapist can relieve the pain or numbness and restore normal use of your hand, wrist and arm without the need for surgery.
Physical therapy is beneficial for helping reduce the risk of sustaining an injury from a tech-related source and healing any existing injury you may already have incurred. Technology is a fact of life, but there’s no reason to live with the pain of using it when relief is so easily available.