For many people, computers are an integral part of their daily routine, both at work at and home. Lauren Alberez rarely goes anywhere without her laptop – now, she's paying the price for it.
"I was having trouble lifting a glass of water, lifting my purse," she says. "It would hurt all the time in my elbow and down into my arm."
She is being treated for "laptop elbow." Similar to other painful conditions linked to high-tech devices in recent years, it's an overuse injury.
Dr. Alan Schroeder says that he sees an increasing number of people with the same symptoms as Alberez.
"It's technically called a tendonitis, which in layman's terms is a micro-tearing of the tendon," explains Schroeder.
In Alberez's case, the damage is to the ligament that connects muscle to bone at the elbow. A brace takes some of the stress off of the ligament, which eases pain and promotes healing. Stretching exercises also help.
Ergonomic accessories that supports the wrist while using a computer or mouse can also help alleviate the pain and lower the risk of getting laptop elbow by reducing the stress on tendons.
Experts say that the biggest threat to people with laptop elbow is that they often suffer in silence rather than seeking help. Left untreated, tendonitis of the elbow could require surgery to correct.
So, the next time you have a twinge of pain in your elbow, don't just assume it's from your tennis game – it could be laptop elbow. And what you do about it could be a deciding factor in just how drastic the treatment you need to fix it will be.
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