If you were left in shock after reading recent reports that Selfie Elbow is a new medical condition, be warned, as the condition can catch up fast with those Indian youngsters who are obsessed with clicking self-portraits to impress their friends on social media, experts say.
Although India is yet to know about many Selfie Elbow patients, the obsession is here to stay. Recently, award-winning US journalist and NBC’s Today show host Hoda Kotb was diagnosed with this new lifestyle condition.
Like tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow, an addiction to selfie-taking can cause a pain in your primary pic-snapping elbow and the day is not too far when you hear or read about an Indian teenager spotted with this condition, experts say.
“Selfie taking is emerging as an avid sport in which everyone can participate and share self-portraits with the world. And like any other sport, it too has its share of injuries,” says Dr Dhananjay Gupta, Director (Bone and Joints) at Fortis Flt Lt. Rajan Dhall Hospital.
Clicking too many selfies will affect upper limb, elbow and shoulder muscles which automatically will lead to functions getting degraded. “A working person suffering from this might have to take off for a few weeks as clicking too many selfies is a major health hazard,” adds Dr Nishchal Chugh, Director (Joint Replacement) at Saroj Super Specialty Hospital.
In Kotb’s case, her doctor recommended icing her elbow and certain exercises to help relieve the soreness. “Although it is too early to comment on the excessive use of the elbow or thumb while clicking a selfie, there is always a possibility that by incorrect stretching of the tendons, an injury can be caused to joints like the elbow,” notes Dr Raman Kant Aggarwal, Director (Shoulder Surgery Department) at Fortis Bone and Joint Institute.
“Selfie elbow is more of an abnormal and repetitive loading of muscles around elbow, leading to micro ruptures which cause inflammation and pain. This ultimately heals with scarring and causes recurrent pain,” Gupta says.
Even minimal stress can initiate severe pain in your elbow. This leads to painful inhibition of muscles resulting in further weakening. “This builds up a vicious cycle and severe loss of function,” Gupta adds.
From gaming and chatting to selfie-taking, texting and tweeting, there has been a greater rise in injuries in teenagers than ever before. Experts suggest that the selfie-taking habit should be kept at a reasonable level to avoid such a condition. “Apply ice packs and take some anti-inflammatory medications in case of emergency. You may require a physiotherapist for modalities and muscle stretching and strengthening exercises if the trouble rises,” Gupta adds.
Experts also suggest the use of a selfie stick to avoid stress on the muscles. “Use both hands alternatively to take selfies. This prevents build-up of stress on only one arm muscle group,” Gupta recommends.