Soccer might be the most famous sport in the world, but I’d argue that the sport of selfies is overtaking it — and that’s not just an anecdotal observation. According to orthopedists, more and more people are coming into their offices with carpal tunnel and other arm injuries as a result of constant picture taking.
“In recent years we’ve been seeing an increase in carpal tunnel syndrome and tendinitis from overuse in teens, where 10 to 15 years ago it was mostly scraped knees and falling off a bike,” Dr. Charles Kim, a musculoskeletal rehab specialist at Rusk Rehabilitation at NYU Langone Medical Center, told Elle. “We are actually seeing a lot more distress injuries in younger patients because of the way they use technology.”
And adults, too. NBC Today host Hoda Kotb revealed to the magazine that she went to the doctor to alleviate her phone-associated pain.
“I went to the orthopedist and he said, ‘Are you playing tennis or ping-pong?’ And of course I’m not, so I told him I was taking selfies,” Kotb told Elle. “When you take the picture, your arm is up, bent in a weird way and you just click, click, click — think about how many you take: 20, 30 or 40. Selfie elbow, everyone has it!”
But don’t assume that this whole phone-related injury thing is new — it’s actually been a problem since the days of Blackberry phones (remember those?!).
“People would get tendinitis in their thumb because they were on their Blackberries all the time,” Dr. Jordan Metzl, a sports medicine physician at New York’s Hospital for Special Surgery, added to the magazine. “You get tennis elbow from playing too much tennis — or having poor form — and you get selfie elbow from taking too many selfies. You put too much stress on the muscle and it irritates the area where the muscle comes off the bone and you get this inflammatory response.”
Of course, taking selfies isn’t only an injury risk — it’s a death risk, too. A German tourist, Oliver Park, was killed at Machu Picchu in Peru after he fell off a cliff in a selfie attempt. A recent study by Priceonomics found that 54 people, most of them men, have died from taking selfies since 2014. Yikes.
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