Twenty years ago no one had heard of the selfie. Then again, while cell phones were already out, they still weren’t something nearly everyone had, and we didn’t even dream of them including cameras in them. This means, of course, no one had heard of the term “selfie” yet.
But everything changed a lot in the past two decades. Not only do most of us carry our own cell phone on our person, but they also have high-powered cameras integrated into them. This led to people using them out of the narcissistic belief that everyone wants to see pictures of them. It’s also led to a new ailment doctors are seeing: “selfie wrist.”
There has been a rise in the number of younger people complaining of sore wrists to their doctors. It’s actually a form of carpal tunnel syndrome, an ailment that popped up with the increase in computer use.
“The wrist holding the camera phone is in a flexed position. That is the most unfavorable position,” explained Dr. Raj Ragoowansi, a consultant plastic surgeon.
“The carpal tunnel is an unforgiving space in the wrist. If you keep on taking selfies, the blood supply on the nerve in it will be compromised, causing pain and numbness.”
Taking pictures in this way has brought people to repeatedly inwardly flex their wrist to get the best angle. This new ailment causes the sensation of pins and needles in the fingers, hand, or arm. This pain can be relieved with painkillers and physical therapy.
For some people, though, that is not enough. They need injections or even surgery to relieve the pressure on the affected nerve. For once, maybe people will begin to appreciate the selfie stick a little more.
“In one 26-year-old I saw a month ago, the numbness was so severe that she couldn’t grip,” added Dr. Ragoowansi. Another woman came to him with “severely numb fingertips” and admitted that she regularly took selfies.
He estimates that he’s seen an increase of 30 to 40 percent in men and women between the ages of 18 and 35 who are later diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, and that was something he “rarely” saw before that.
He sees it so regularly now that he asks his patients to detail their mobile phone use in a document. It’s not just selfies, as how a person holds their phone and types can also cause damage. This brings up images of the thumb-typers.
Where Will It End?
Knuckles are becoming less attractive, as people have begun photoshopping them out of their selfies, with Instagram expert Sara Tasker tweeting that “in ‘Instagram trends that quietly frighten me’ we have airbrushing out your knuckles for that ‘hot dog’ look …”
Hopefully, this won’t lead to yet another ailment with people trying to avoid their knuckles being seen. It’s bad enough that we now have “Selfie Wrist,” a more specific version of carpal tunnels syndrome.
Are you a selfie-taker? Have you noticed wrist pain from it? Tell us in the comments.