Talking for long periods on a cell phone really can cause injury.
Introducing “cell phone elbow” (CPE), numbness, tingling and pain in the forearm and hand caused by compression of the ulnar nerve, which passes along the bony bump on the inside of the elbow. (The ulnar nerve is what causes the pain when you hit your “funny bone.”)
It’s a real medical condition that’s known as cubital tunnel syndrome.
It’s caused by prolonged flexing of the elbow, such as when you hold a cell phone to your ear. It’s also an occupational injury suffered by people who type and others who work with their elbows bent tighter than 90 degrees.
Holding the elbow in a bent position for long periods can lead to decreased blood flow, inflammation and compression of the nerve.
Occupational therapists report this is the second most common compression syndrome. Carpal tunnel is most common.
Hand-free headsets can help alleviate symptoms. Another option: switch hands every ten minutes while speaking on a cell phone.
If you know of employees whose tasks require frequent elbow bending, look into modifying their workstations so the elbows aren’t overly flexed. And let them know that frequent cell phone use can contribute to this syndrome.
For more on cubital tunnel syndrome, click here.