The craze for augmented-reality game Pokemon Go among young Taipei residents has led to a spike in tenosynovitis cases in the past week, Taipei Municipal Wan Fang Hospital doctor of physical therapy Cheng Yu-hsuan (鄭宇軒) said.
There has been a marked increase in the number of young patients with tenosynovitis — inflammation and swelling of a tendon — of the neck, wrist and fingers in the past seven days, Cheng said.
The patients tend to have one thing in common — spending long periods of time catching creatures on the popular mobile game, he said.
Cheng said that a 27-year-old visited the hospital complaining of debilitating pain in a thumb and a diagnosis revealed that the cause was De Quervain’s tenosynovitis, which the patient developed by overusing the thumb to “throw pokeballs.”
Video game players often develop a “trigger finger” or carpal tunnel syndrome, Cheng added.
“Trigger finger refers to inflammation of the flexor tendon or annular ligament, which leads to localized pain, difficulty in straightening the fingers or twitchiness when they are straightened; carpal tunnel syndrome refers to compression of the nerves caused by repeated motions of the wrist and fingers, such as holding a mobile phone, resulting in numb fingers or loss of strength in the fingers,” he said.
In addition, the prolonged craning of the neck that occurs during excessive smartphone use can overburden the muscles of the rear of the neck and the upper back. That is linked to a host of disorders, such as strained neck muscles and myofascial pain syndrome, premature aging of cervical vertebrae, herniated discs and spinal nerve compression, Cheng said.
People who frequently use mobile phones are exposed to heightened risk of the above conditions, Cheng said, calling on people who use the devices to avoid remaining in the same posture for too long, and to take periodic breaks and flex their hand and neck muscles at a rate of once every 30 minutes to an hour.
Those who experience any discomfort in the shoulder, neck, upper back or hand should see a doctor immediately to prevent further worsening of their condition, he added.
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