Where phone calls once replaced letter writing and face-to-face communication, texting has now largely replaced many phone calls. Unfortunately for fans of texting, however, this habit, while seemingly harmless, could have some pretty serious long term consequences. While the occasional text message conversation is certainly harmless, most people text far more than they talk. The average teenager, in fact, sends nearly 3500 texts a month. And while, admittedly, teenagers tend to text more than the rest of the general population, texting is undeniably popular across all age groups. Large amounts of texting could ultimately subject you to a number of harmful hand, finger and wrist conditions, though, including the following:
There are two tendons that control the movement of your thumb. These tendons originate in the forearm, run through your wrist, and then, at the base of your hand, pass through a sheath. This sheath keeps the tendons in place and is essential to help the tendons move your thumbs efficiently. However, the repetitive motion of the thumbs required by texting can irritate this area as the tendons move within the sheath, and this irritation can cause pain and other long term problems. This is known as tendonitis of the thumbs and is an increasingly common problem among today’s texters.
Your joints are composed mainly of cartilage, a flexible and durable type of tissue covering the bones that form a joint, and osteoarthritis causes this cartilage to degenerate slowly over time, which can cause inflammation. This inflammation can, in turn, result in extreme pain and a decrease in the range of motion for that joint. It can also cause a great deal of swelling and an enlarged appearance of the joint, as well as- in the case of osteoarthritis of the thumb- difficulty gripping objects. Think osteoarthritis is just for seniors? Think again. A growing number of young people are suffering from this condition, and doctors say that in many cases, it’s linked to the repetitive motions associated with excessive texting. Although osteoarthritis of the thumb caused by texting often takes years to develop, it’s very difficult to reverse once it’s been diagnosed.
3. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Many people mistakenly believe that carpal tunnel syndrome is only caused by typing, but it can also be caused by cellphone use. According to hand therapists, any repetitive and prolonged gripping, turning, or other types of wrist movement can cause carpal tunnel. That means that even holding a cellphone the wrong way could contribute to the development of carpal tunnel, a syndrome in which the median nerve in the wrist becomes compressed or damaged, often leading to numbness, tingling, and pain, as well as sometimes limiting hand movement. The only proven cure for this syndrome is to undergo a surgery to relieve the nerve.
So although texting may seem to be a completely harmless activity, it can sometimes lead to serious hand and wrist issues, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, osteoarthritis of the thumbs, and tendonitis. Using both thumbs instead of one and stretching the hands and wrists regularly are both viable ways to avoid these problems. Ultimately, though, the only way to prevent these types of conditions is to text less frequently.
Request an Online Office Ergonomic Evaluation
Contact Daniel Baumstark, Washington, D.C.’s physical therapist, to obtain an ergonomic evaluation for your office, desk and work environment. Office ergonomic evaluations can be submitted online along with a couple pictures of your desk and seating.