A systematic review of musculoskeletal complaints, symptoms, and pathologies related to mobile phone usage

Musculoskelet Sci Pract. 2020 Oct:49:102196. doi: 10.1016/j.msksp.2020.102196. Epub 2020 May 27.


Background: In the past decade, mobile phone usage rates have increased and there have been concerns that overuse of mobile phones may contribute to various musculoskeletal (MSK) problems.

Objectives: The aim of the present study was to systematically review available literature on the prevalence of MSK complaints, symptoms, and pathologies associated with mobile phone use.

Study design: Systematic review.

Method: In this systematic review, Medline (Pubmed), Wiley, WOS, and EMBASE electronic databases were searched for studies published in English between January 1, 2000 and March 25, 2019 using the following. KEY TERMS: 'mobile phone', 'smartphone', 'musculoskeletal pain', 'pain', 'musculoskeletal symptoms', and 'musculoskeletal pathology'.

Results: The search strategy identified 196 papers, of which 18 met the inclusion criteria. Among the studies included in the systematic review, five were high quality, twelve were of acceptable quality, and one was of low quality. The review demonstrated that the prevalence of MSK complaints among mobile phone users ranged 8.2%-89.9%, and that neck and upper back complaints had the highest prevalence rates ranging from 55.8% to 89.9%. The most common MSK symptom associated with mobile phone use was pain. Myofascial pain syndrome, fibromyalgia, thoracic outlet syndrome, tendonitis, and De Quervain's syndrome were the most commonly associated MSK pathologies.

Conclusion: The evidence concerning MSK complaints among mobile phone is somewhat limited because the data were obtained from cross-sectional and case-control study results. Consequently, there is need for higher quality and prospective studies to better understand the relationship between mobile phone use and MSK symptoms and pathologies.

Keywords: Excessive phone use; Mobile phone use; Musculoskeletal pain syndromes; Musculoskeletal symptoms.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cell Phone*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Musculoskeletal Pain* / diagnosis
  • Musculoskeletal Pain* / epidemiology
  • Musculoskeletal Pain* / etiology
  • Prospective Studies