When do you know you’re talking too long on the cell phone?
If you haven’t been noticing your suddenly astronomical cell phone bills, you might want to pay attention to that recent pain that’s been shooting through your arm.
Orthopedic experts say that a newly discovered chronic illness is cropping up everywhere: “cell phone elbow.” Those who’ve been stricken with this condition, called cubital tunnel syndrome, tend to feel weakness in their hands and find it hard to do simple things, like opening a jar or playing the piano.
"It could impede your typing ability, your writing ability," said Dr. Peter J. Evans, the director of the Hand and Upper Extremity Center at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. "People get very unintelligible writing if it gets severe."
The ailment is caused when cell phone users hold the phone to their ears, stretching the nerve that extends underneath the funny bone and controls the smallest fingers. Holding that position for long periods "chokes the blood supply to the nerves. It makes the nerves short-circuit. The next thing you know, there's tingling in the ring and small finger," said Evans. So what is one to do? Simply switch hands – before it gets worse, he says.