When you think of risks associated with sending text messages, chances are you think of the dangers of texting while driving. But could there be other, not so obvious health issues associated with sending short messages from your mobile phone?
Perhaps. Doctors report more patients complaining of tingling, numbness and pain in their fingers and wrists. Is it just tired hands or something more serious?
Since this is a relatively recent complaint, at least in large numbers, physicians are looking around for a recent phenomenon that might explain it. Their attention quickly fell on texting.
152.7 billion texts
With over 152.7 billion text messages sent per month in the United States alone, it is becoming clear that people are shifting their primary method of communication from voices to hands and fingers. Does this shift explain the injuries?
While these complaints can all be signs of tired, overused hands, these symptoms can also indicate something more serious, such as a repetitive stress injury, tendonitis, aggravation of arthritis or sprains, and even carpal tunnel syndrome, doctors say.
It is important that patients dont dismiss symptoms of sore fingers, occasional numbness and tingling, says George Kardashian, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon and hand specialist at The Center for Bone and Joint Disease in Hudson, FL. These symptoms are all the bodys way of saying it needs a break or a more serious injury will occur.
Interestingly, despite the common conception that typing and texting cause carpal tunnel; there is no scientific evidence proving that keyboard use leads to carpal tunnel. That is why it is so important for people to go see their doctors when experiencing symptoms in their hands and wrists, instead of trying to self-diagnose.
How to Prevent Serious Injuries
Since it is almost impossible to stop using mobile devices or computers completely, it is important to know how to prevent these symptoms from turning from sore, tired fingers into something more severe.
Kardashian suggests patients take frequent breaks from texting and typing and stretch the affected areas if experiencing any symptoms. If pain and/or swelling exist, use ice packs to reduce swelling while giving your hands a rest. Also, for those individuals who spend most of their day in front of a computer it is important to have an ergonomic workstation.
Be aware of the additional strain you are putting on your hands, fingers, thumbs and wrists, Kardashian said. Taking precautions by stretching and resting your hands and wrists will allow your body to recover.