Do you have a really cool phone that you can not seem to put down? Do you text more than you call? Does it start to hurt after you text for a while?
If so, you may be experiencing the latest disorder called Blackberry Thumb—a misnomer as you do not need to be using a Blackberry to suffer from thumb pain. Ten million people use their Blackberry every day but with the use of T9 text any cell phone can put you at risk. The problem comes from using the tiny keypads mainly by inputting information with the thumbs. Thumbs aren’t meant to perform an activity like this repetitively—some people have even learned to type 40 words a minute! Using the thumb in different ways to type messages can cause painful, activity-limiting tendonitis. Also, many of the PDA users are middle-aged business people who have arthritis that is easily aggravated by use of the thumb in this way
We know this technology is not going away so the following suggestions may help you continue to text safely: hold the device comfortably in the hands and close to the body; do not type for more than five minutes without a break; keep messages as short as possible and leave the longer typing for when you use a computer; and stretch your arms, wrists and hands frequently. Most importantly, listen to your body and when your hand is tired, STOP, because if you push it you could end up with thumb pain that may never go away.
This article is written by Karen Garvin OTR, CHT. Karen is a certified hand therapist with over 20 years experience in upper extremity rehabilitation. Click her picture to learn more about Karen.