"Cell Phone Elbow": New Sign Of Times

You've heard of Blackberry Thumb, Guitar Hero Wrist and Carpel Tunnel Syndrome.

The latest over-use or repetitive motion injury to join the Digital Age list is Cell Phone Elbow, says CBS News medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton.

It's known in the medical community as Cubital Tunnel Syndrome, Ashton said on The Early Show Wednesday.

It's caused by too much bending of your arm to put a cell phone to your ear, Ashton explains. That compresses the ulnar nerve, which runs along the bony bump on the inside of the elbow. Pressure on the nerve causes it to get compressed like a garden hose. Of course, when that happens to a hose, it impedes the flow of water. It's the same when the elbow is constantly flexed: It impairs blood flow and causes pain, typically in the lateral part of the ring finger and then your pinkie. And it can be debilitating. Other symptoms could include numbness and tingling or pain in the forearm and hand, similar to the unpleasant sensation of hitting your "funny bone," which is really the ulnar nerve. As symptoms progress, you could even lose muscle strength and mobility, making writing and typing difficult.

Physicians are seeing much more Cell Phone Elbow as the number of the devices in use continues to climb. In fact, it's the second-most common compression syndrome the Cleveland Clinic treats, behind Carpel Tunnel.

To help reverse Cell Phone Elbow, Ashton suggests using a hands-free cell phone, rotating the arm you use, or using cell phones less -- she refers to it as "alleviating the offending action."

It can be treated with injections, ultrasound to loosen scar tissue that forms around the nerve, physical therapy, or chiropractic care..

"This is the same thing for people on the computer," Ashton said. "Anyone who's leaning on their elbow during the day a lot ... can get compression injury to this nerve."
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