Here’s just one more reason why electronics are slowly killing us. Apparently, “selfie elbow” is a thing, and, no, it’s not a good thing. Take it from Hoda Kotb, co-anchor of NBC’s Today, who is a professional selfie taker. Hey, it’s part of her job! She’s got selfies with just about everyone, from LL Cool J to Blake Shelton, but she told Elle.com that it might be starting to take a toll on her body.
She visited her orthopedist because her elbow was hurting and “he said, ‘Are you playing tennis or ping-pong?’ And of course I’m not, so I told him I was taking selfies.” Her doctor said that was the culprit of her achy elbow, so he gave her some at-home exercises to do to relieve the pain.
If this sounds a bit hokey to you, there are other doctors out there who can confirm this is true. Dr. Jordan Metzl, a sports medicine physician at New York’s Hospital for Special Surgery, tells Cosmopolitan that “selfie elbow” can definitely be a real thing for someone — that is, if they’re taking a whole lot of selfies every day. Overusing any kind of technology can potentially give you injuries, even if they’re small ones.
“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!” Hoda says.
Dr. Metzl confirms this and adds, “Basically, the interface between technology and the human body sometimes causes injuries of over-exuberance.” He said they used to see that with Blackberry users. They would get tendinitis in their thumbs, just like tennis players would get tennis elbows in their, well, elbows. “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,” he says.
“Selfie elbow” isn’t the only condition that can result from taking one too many selfies. According to Spine-Health, “Text neck” is totally a thing, and it comes from the way we tilt our head forward for extended periods of time, whether we’re looking at a tablet, a phone, or a laptop. This positioning of the neck can result in a lot of aches and pains over time. It has certainly been a problem for me and I know I’m not the only one. It’s a real phenomenon among millennials and doctors are worried it’s going to affect us in the long run.
But don’t worry about these effects quite yet — after all, we probably will never be able to match Hoda’s selfie game.
If you do start to feel any tension in your elbow from your selfie taking, Dr. Metzl says all you have to do is take some Advil or Motrin, or really anything that will help reduce the inflammation. Also, apply ice and so some stretching exercises to relieve the aches. “Maybe people should alternate their arms — start spreading the load,” he also recommends. At least you’ll start to see yourself from different angles, too, I guess.
Dr. Charles Kim, a musculoskeletal rehab specialist at Rusk Rehabilitation at NYU Langone Medical Center, also encourages us all to invest in a selfie stick, according to Elle, because it takes the pressure away from our elbow. Sounds like a pretty good solution to me.