'Selfie wrist' on the rise in bid to take perfect picture

A growing number of young people are having treatment, some even undergoing surgery, for pain caused by taking selfies .

Dubbed "Selfie wrist", the condition is a form of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) caused by repeated inward flexing of the wrist to capture a perfect picture.

In an interview with The Sunday Times, Dr Raj Ragoowansi, a consultant plastic surgeon based in Harley Street, said he has noted a rise in young patients suffering from the condition.

He also warned of an increase of "iPhone thumb", or tendonitis caused by repeated use of the thumb when using mobiles.

Dr Raj Ragoowansi said he has seen an increase in younger patients suffering from wrist pain. Credit: Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth

Explaining "selfie wrist", Dr Ragoowansi said it is caused by holding the camera "flexed" and "unfavourable position", and if this is done repeatedly the blood supply of the median nerve which travels through the carpal tunnel into the hand will be "compromised, causing pain and numbness".

He added that the carpal tunnel "is an unforgiving space".

Carpal tunnel syndrome can be treated by refraining from the activity that caused it, wearing splints and carrying out hand and wrist exercises, and can take months to get better.

In severe cases it can required steroid injections and even surgery.

Selfies are a popular way for people to prove they've met someone famous. Credit: PA

Dr Ragoowansi said he has had to operate on patients to cut the carpal tunnel to relieve pressure on the nerve.

“In one 26-year-old I saw a month ago the numbness was so severe that she couldn’t grip," he explained, adding that earlier this month another woman, who also told him she regularly took selfies, presented with “severely numb fingertips”.

Dr Ragoowansi said both patients required steroid injections to bring down the swelling of the nerve, but he believes one may still require surgery due to the severity of her condition.

Selfies are popular with politicians. Credit: PA

The surgeon stressed that he could not conclusively prove symptoms had been caused by taking too many selfies, but believed it it was the most plausible explanation.

“I’ve seen a 30% to 40% increase in patients, men and women, between the ages of 18 and 35 presenting with carpal tunnel syndrome, which I rarely used to see."

As a result, Dr Ragoowansi has begun asking younger patients for a full history of their mobile phone use.

“It’s not just selfies but texting too, about how you hold the phone and type.

"We’re also seeing ‘iPhone thumb’, whereby if you keep on using your thumb, you will get thumb-based pain, due to joint or tendon inflammation.”

The curse of "selfie wrist" has even afflicted reality-TV star Kim Kardashian, who admitted last year that she was no longer taking selfies because of the condition.