Thursday, July 23, 2009
Medical Reports: Cell Phone Elbow
Could you imagine life without your cell phone? Not many of us could, but some doctors say talking on your cell phone for long periods of time could become a real pain. Seven's Diana Diaz shows us why people are developing Cell Phone Elbow.
WSVN -- We all do it, talk on our cell phones, sometimes for hours at a time. Fabiana Bermann admits to being a chronic cell phone talker, but after a while she noticed the more she chatted the more she was in pain.
Fabiana Bermann: "Basically, a lot of pain, a lot of numbness, tingling."
And she's not the only one. Orthopedic hand specialist Gary Schwartz says he's seeing a spike in the number of patients coming to him complaining of the same symptoms.
Dr. Gary Schwartz: "Beginning initially as numbness and tingling, weakness, loss of strength, loss of dexterity."
So why is this happening to so many cell phone users? Dr. Schwartz says it's due to a major nerve in the arm called the ulnar nerve.
Dr. Gary Schwartz: "That nerve subsequently comes down through the forearm and then supplies sensation to the small finger and to the ring finger."
So when someone is talking on their cell phone for a prolonged period of time, holding the elbow in a bent position, the nerve becomes compressed.
Dr. Gary Schwartz: "So we can get numbness both on the top and the bottom part of the ring and small fingers."
If the condition now known as cell phone elbow is not addressed by a doctor, the nerve damage can become permanent.
Dr. Gary Schwartz: "Once the nerve function is decreased, it's very difficult to get that nerve function back even with surgery."
For Fabiana, her symptoms were only getting worse.
Fabiana Bermann: "In the middle of the night waking up, arm was numb, hand was numb, obviously painful."
She decided to have a procedure to move the ulnar nerve.
Dr. Gary Schwartz: "We release the nerve from around the bone where it's normally located, and we bring it in front of the elbow, so when we're bending and straightening the elbow there's no pressure on that nerve."
Now Fabiana uses a hands-free device at work and even though she uses her phone to keep track of her daughters, she is trying to cut back on her cell phone use.
Fabiana Bermann: "In fact, I would say it's one of the worst offenders in our society now. Today, everybody uses a cell phone so much we're all suffering from it."
Diana Diaz: "The procedure to move the nerve takes about an hour and is done on an outpatient basis, but Dr. Schwartz says most people just need to change their behavior by using a hands free device or switching hands when talking on the cell phone.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Dr. Gary Schwartz
Memorial Hospital South
3700 Washington Street, Suite 200
Hollywood, FL 33021
Tel: (954) 966-6450