Selfie Elbow

Selfie elbow is an overuse injury; only conscious efforts to take pressure off the elbow may be of help

Selfie elbow is an overuse injury; only conscious efforts to take pressure off the elbow may be of help.
Sonal, Akhil, Varun and Lalitha have two things in common, their obsession for taking selfie photos, and their suffering from painful elbows. What is now increasingly seen in young and old who take selfie photos with their smartphones is selfie elbow, a worrying orthopaedic condition.

Globally, with the easy availability of smart devices that are loaded with high-pixel front cameras, the obsession to take selfies and upload them almost instantly on social media sites is on the rise. Significantly, the number of footfalls at clinics and hospitals with elbow pain has compounded, with most of the aggrieved belonging to the new genre of staunch selfie adherents.


The name ‘selfie elbow’ explains it all. The new lifestyle has made it conditional for many of us to possess and use smart phones which come with in-built front and back cameras. Some selfie adherents who like to take innumerable selfies often strain their elbows, as taking a selfie means to move the arm up and bent in a weird position.


Selfie elbow is a new neuro-orthopaedic condition which is a fall-out of increased use of smart phones. Earlier, the neuro-orthopaedic conditions were evident as aches and pains due to texting messages viz. ‘text neck’ and ‘texters thumb.’ Now the technology has graduated to taking selfies and causing ‘selfie elbow.’

The symptoms of self-elbow are evident as ‘Repetitive Strain Injuries’ or RSI’s which affect your muscles and tendons. The sprain or strain is slow and gradual. If you are frequently taking selfies and experience symptoms of pain and stress in your elbow area, which you consider as due to taking selfies from using your IPad, laptop or smartphone.


Selfie elbow is an overuse injury. When you use your smart phone repeatedly to take a number of selfies, there is definitely micro trauma to the muscles and tendons of the forearm or wrist. The risks of selfie elbow are evident as muscle inflammation in your arms and a major complication evident as increased rate of degenerative change in joints.


After ‘texting thumb’ and ‘text neck’ it is selfie elbow that has emerged as the new neuro-orthopaedic condition. As your elbow pain reaches alarming levels, a visit to the doctor proves to be beneficial. The doctor may ask questions regarding your lifestyle and hobbies, esp. of playing games like tennis, ping-pong and others. The doctor may also enquire about your cellphone habits (texting, messaging, and social media postings). The doctor may also ask you about your habit to take selfies. The doctor looks for symptoms of tendinitis or ache in the elbow. While you take selfies, you hold the mobile phone for several minutes in strenuous posture, which can cause trauma to your muscles and tendons in the elbow.


You can start treating your ‘selfie elbow’ with ice, exercise and rest. The shoulder and wrist rolls help in relaxing the elbow and wrist muscles. A few changes in selfie taking may also help viz. shifting the mobile device from one hand to another frequently, using a selfie stick, while taking selfies giving long gaps between each selfie session and limiting you to fewer selfies at any given point of time. Asking your friend to click your photos, an old method of taking photos has indeed no parallel at all.

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