Study Shows Increased Pain Due to Device Use

Donna.Begg By Donna.Begg, 1st Aug 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Health>General Health>Back Pain

musculoskeletal and hand/finger joint pain is on the rise as a direct result of mobile device and computer use.

Study Shows Increased Pain Due to Device Use

In Australia, musculoskeletal and hand/finger joint pain is on the rise as a direct result of mobile device and computer use. According to the MediBank in Sydney, they have found that Australian residents use various screens up to 9 hours every day. This means many hours spent in hunched positions, slouched over, leading to problems with posture and comfort, as well as the quality of life! These types of problems can very well lead to arthritic conditions of the hands, neck or upper back. As the years go by, we can very well expect to see an increase in the number of people complaining about musculoskeletal pains.

Why is This Happening?
It is well established that repeated movements can lead to problems in the joints that are used for those actions. Well, it is the same with phones, computers, tablets and laptops. Mobile devices often result in many hours spent hunched over a small screen, or awkwardly positioned on a bed. This can lead to muscle tightness and joint restriction of the upper back, shoulders and neck. These can be very painful conditions that restrict your movement severely. Spending extended periods in such positions can give you headaches, neck pains and shoulder impingement. Furthermore, the use of cell phones can result in thumb joint and index finger pain, due to the method of typing we must take on such small keyboards.

What Does This Mean For The Future?
Currently, we are seeing an increase in the complaints about various conditions. For instance, with repetitive movements of the thumb and index fingers, there is a rise in repetitive strain and tendonitis of the hand and finger joints. Such issues can result in degeneration of the thumb joint and index finger due to overuse of the muscle and joint tissue. While these actions are pretty light physically, frequent repetitive actions lead to excessive joint and tendon strain.

As the age of technology surges forward, children and teens are being exposed to mobile devices at younger and younger ages. This can lead to some problems, as they are still developing their spines, as well as other joints, bones and muscles in their bodies. However, due to the overuse of devices, they may spend hours hunching their shoulders, which can result in permanent postural problems that can negatively impact their lives later down the line.

What Disorders Can Devices Cause?
There is a high number of musculoskeletal disorders associated with neck and upper body extremities, and they can each be tied relatively quickly to computer use. For instance, using the mouse requires the hand to be gripping the accessory for long periods of time, leading to carpal tunnel and painful hand cramps. In Sweden, 32-34% of their working population reports neck pain and upper back pain weekly. Some of the disorders associated with computer use include wrist tendinitis and tenosynovitis, medial and lateral epicondylitis, carpal tunnel syndrome and De Quervain's tenosynovitus.

Through few studies have been done on the connection between pain and device usage, but many signs point to a correlation, including the survey by MediBank. They found that Australians spent more time in front of screens than they did sleeping! In the survey, 1,505 Australians were questioned on their views when it came to their amount of screen time. Many figured they spent about 9 hours in front of a screen. 1 in 5 claimed that were they not in front of a screen, they would be exercising or enjoying some form of physical activity. Of course, this leads to many health risks, such as attention difficulty, low self-esteem, depression and obesity. They are also more likely to develop a form of arthritis, in particular in their hands. The unfortunate thing is we do everything with our hands, they are perhaps our most valuable body part.

The best solution is to cut back a little on screen time. If you work from home on a laptop, there are things that can be done! You can use a USB keyboard and mouse to keep your wrists at a comfortable level, and have the laptop set up on a table to avoid hunching over the screen. Many health physicians recommend taking 15 minute breaks to stretch your neck and roll your shoulders, take a breather and rest your eyes from the screen's light. In other instances, such as when texting, take breaks every 15 to 30 minutes. The best option, of course, is to switch to calling.

• Penney G, Brechin S, de Souza A, et al; FFPRHC Guidance (January 2004). The copper intrauterine device as long-term contraception. J Fam Plann Reprod Health Care. 2004 Jan;30(1):29-41; quiz 42.
• Physical exposure, musculoskeletal symptoms and attitudes related to ICT use


Back Pain, Depression, Joint Pain, Obesity

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author avatar Donna.Begg
Donna Begg is the website admin of She has been awarded with the MD and Doctor of Public Health, a multi-disciplinary professional degrees. She had worked across the globe...

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author avatar snerfu
3rd Aug 2014 (#)

This mouse bites! True lot of problems arise through not taking a break.

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