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June 03, 2021

Yup, there's now something called "cell phone elbow"

By Jason Buckland, Sympatico / MSN Finance

Often when I’m sniffing about the furthest avenues of the Internet, I’ve got my eyes peeled for the most ridiculous stories I can pass along to you, the good MSN reader.

And this one is just too irresistible. For the sake of context, pretend you haven’t just read the title and let’s say I’ve presented you with these three technology-related headlines:

1) “Doctors find rampant mobile phone use now leads to painful elbow affliction”
2) “GM boss Fritz Henderson: Wait, I actually have to turn this thing around now?”
3) “Al Gore orders murder of super-Conservative family he catches cranking A/C, denouncing the effects of Global Warming”

Now, which one would you think is actually true? You’d probably pick the first story, but maybe not by much. And perhaps that’s the best way to prove how preposterous this one actually is.

Yet as it turns out, sigh, the rumours are true. Doctors have now reported they are seeing cases of “cell phone elbow,” described as a pain in your forearm and numbing of the pinkie and ring fingers from extensive use of a mobile phone.

By bending their elbow too tightly toward the head, according to orthopedic specialists, patients are damaging an essential nerve in their arm if they do it for too long.

People who have the condition (dubbed “cubital tunnel syndrome”) apparently experience weakness in their hands and have difficulty opening jars or doing other fine motor-skill activities.

Let me first jump at this chance to point out what a terrible, terrible reflection of the human being this is. Who isn’t genuinely embarrassed by this? Granted, I probably use my cell phone more than I should but, my goodness – if chatting with your BFF about the new Facebook photos from last weekend is causing you physical pain, put the phone down! Switch hands! Do something!

You’d think cell phone elbow would have to start a terrible precedent for technology-induced symptoms in the coming years, too. If anything, literally speaking into a cell phone wouldn’t even crack my top 3 of physically-straining modern tech tasks. I’ll remind everyone of this next month when I’m writing about how a woman in Chicago was texting so much on the L-Train that her thumb actually blasted clear off her body, hit the subway operator and caused a four car pile-up underground.

If anyone else has a similar story out there, we’d love to hear it. But this is a real head-scratcher. As Neil Armstrong might say, this is one small step for morons, one giant leap backward for mankind.




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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...