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Is “Selfie Elbow” A REAL Medical Condition?

My answer to: Is "Selfie Elbow" a REAL Medical Condition?

Answer by Allen Willette:

Yes, and no. Yes, it's real in the sense that taking selfies constantly can end up causing pain and even soft tissue injury eventually (but that's true of any motion repeated enough times.)

“Selfie Elbow” in case you haven’t heard, is pain in the elbow and/or wrist caused by holding ones arm fully extended and putting one's wrist in an awkward position over and over to take pictures of oneself, AKA a “selfie.”

However, apparently, the kind of injury one is most likely to end up with in this situation, is either Golfer's or Tennis Elbow (Medial or Lateral Epicondylopathy – or EpicondylITIS, which is being deprecated.)

So, in that sense, since these injuries already have names, “Selfie Elbow” is just a nickname and not the actual medical condition.

(Although, technically, the same could probably be said about Tennis Elbow at one time, now the term Tennis Elbow is found everywhere in medical literature.)

The story that started a viral media buzz storm this summer was broken by Elle on June 30th, 2016.

"Selfie Elbow" Is a Real Medical Thing Now

"Selfie Elbow" Is a Real Medical Thing Now

It was about how Hoda Kotb, (a journalist and co-anchor of NBC's Today Show) was complaining of elbow pain to her Doctor, who asked her if she was playing a lot of tennis or ping pong.

She said that she didn't play those games but had been taking a lot of selfie pics!

Dr. Jordan Metzl, (Sports Med. Dr. at Hospital for Special Surgery) was quoted for the article saying:

“The problem is simply overuse. If you do something enough times—typing, texting, taking selfies—it's going to have consequences. And like Carpal Tunnel and Tendinitis, it's the repetitive nature of the task that causes the aches.”

In an article in the Washington Post on July 5, Mary Ann Wilmarth, a Doctor of Physical Therapy, reminded us that:

“It sounds ridiculous, sure, but these types of injuries are hardly new… These conditions could be seen as variations on good old-fashioned repetitive strain injuries. Think of those carpal tunnel braces…”

“Selfie elbow is similar to 'Tennis Elbow' or 'Golfer's Elbow,'”


But the fascinating twist on this story is that neither Elle nor The Wash. Post, nor Hoda Kotb coined this term Selfie Elbow!

U of M ‘Health Talk’ Blog Coins Selfie Elbow In April Fools Gag Post

It looks like it was the University of Michigan's 'Health Talk' blog, Published By its Academic Health Center that coined the term on April 1, 2014

U of M researchers: New data shows dramatic rise in a new form of tendinitis known as “selfie elbow”

“In a study published today in the journal Human Medicine, U of M researchers present data linking a recent rise in elbow injuries to the practice of taking a selfie, which experts say…”

But this story, referencing a fake medical journal and equally non-existent medical study, was just an April Fools Day hoax piece!

(That none of the top Selfie-Elbow news stories are referencing, interestingly.)

So, what wasn't a “real” medical condition in 2014 now IS in 2016!?

For more about Selfie Elbow (and Golfer's / Tennis Elbow, which it appears to be another name for) see my post on my Tennis Elbow-specific site:

Selfie Elbow: A Painful, New Injury? Yes And No! (What To Do)

Is "Selfie Elbow" a real medical condition?


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