EAN 2017: Smartphone use can damage median nerve

Need another reason to take a break from your smartphone? Heavy users of smartphones can experience damage to their median nerves, potentially resulting in carpal tunnel syndrome, according to a poster presentation at this week's congress of the European Academy of Neurology (EAN) in Amsterdam.

In a research project involving over 60 participants, a Turkish group found that heavy users of smartphones reported higher scores on a special questionnaire for recording pain complaints involving the arm, shoulder, and hand. What's more, electrophysiological measurements showed mean motor conduction velocity for heavy smartphone users was lower than that of moderate users, according to the team led by Dr. Faik Ilik, from Baskent University and Dr. Huseyin Buyukgol, from Karatay University.

The 62 study participants included 19 moderate users of smartphones (a score of less than 71 on the smartphone addiction scale), 22 heavy users of smartphones (a score greater than 71 on the smartphone addiction scale), and 22 users of traditional mobile phones without computer functions. The heavy smartphone users had the highest average scores on the Quick Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, Hand (Q-DASH) questionnaire, indicating a higher level of pain:

  • Q-DASH score for traditional mobile phone users: 16.63
  • Q-DASH score for moderate smartphone users: 13.26
  • Q-DASH score for heavy smartphone users: 19.8

After performing electrophysiological testing on all of the participants, the researchers also found that heavy smartphone users had an average of 10.8% lower motor conduction velocity than moderate smartphone users.

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