Seen on Saturday morning: March 29th

March 29, 2008 8:55:40 AM PDT

You see it all over town--- folks busy sending text messages and e-mails on their Blackberries and cell phones.

Just this week, the American Journal of Psychiatry classified internet addiction as a mental disorder. That addiction has lead to some serious hand and thumb problems.

Joining us this morning with some solutions is the New Jersey nets massage therapist, Sue Ann Penna.

Blackberry thumb can be put under the category of Repetitive Stress Injury. This is caused when we do the same motion for an extended period of time. The Blackberry compounds RSI because it puts even more stress on our hands because it forces us to use our thumbs in a very unnatural and uncomfortable way.

Our thumbs are meant for grasping and holding. They are not meant for the dexterity that is involved in typing on a keypad. All of the excessive strain can lead to tendonitis and works its way to the elbow and many times all the way up to the shoulder.

With a traditional keypad, the three middle fingers do most of the typing and maneuvering around the keypad. The thumb's only job is to hit the space bar. People do feel discomfort with their thumbs in using the mouse for extended periods of time, but it's just the same downward motion. It doesn't involve the dexterity that the Blackberry does in order to type.

One way to alleviate Blackberry Thumb is to wean yourself of the addiction and write fewer and shorter message. Type for only 5 minutes at a time and take a break and stretch your fingers in between. Any action that you do for an extended period of time is going to cause muscle tension.

Stretching and self-massage will help ease some of the muscle tension created for from over-using the thumb in this matter.

The treatment I offer at my office is a warm water soak with epsom salt. A gentle exfoliant also helps to increase the circulation, along with a moisturizer with mint, because that is invigorating, and heated hands mitts. I finish with a massage that works the entire hand up to the elbow and, if needed, to the shoulder. Massage will help to increase the blood flow, reduce muscle tension and allow oxygen and other nutrients to get to the area.

Here are some interesting stats:

  • 83% of users check their email on vacation
  • 59% check email the second it arrives
  • 53% check email while in the bathroom
  • 59% check email while in bed
  • 37% check email while driving
  • 12% check email while in church

    -----LEARN TO LOVE IT-----

    We all have some beauty flaw. Something that isn't quite perfect about our bodies, but are those changes of your body something you should learn to love or have it checked out?

    With us this morning to help distinguish between the two is the more magazine health director Cary Barbor.

    Gray Hair: Our hair begins to produce less pigment as we get older, regardless of its mysterious nature, gray hair will not harm you.
    Thinning Hair: Some hair loss is normal, thanks to hormonal changes, but if you have bald patches, you may be suffering from an autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks its own hair follicles. This can be treated at a dermatologist's office.

    Your Menopot: Its normal to pick up anywhere from three to five lbs around the belly as a result of shifting hormones. If its limited to those three to five pounds, it probably wont have a major impact on your health.
    Significant Belly Fat: If you're gaining weight beneath the abdominal muscle wall, then you have a problem. This visceral fat increases your risk for heart disease, diabetes and other problems. For every four inches a woman gains in her waist, her risk of colon cancer rises by 16%. To tell the difference, lie on the floor. A menopot will fall to either side; visceral fat will stay raised.

    Dark Circles: This discoloration is just blood running through the vessels under the eyes. It's genetic! Think it's because you stayed up late? Experts say no-no studies have proven that fatigue causes dark circles. People who are tired just perceive their circles to be more visible.
    Drooping Eyelids: The true marker of sleep deprivation is when the lids droop downward, usually from exhaustion. If you're chronically tired, talk with a sleep specialist who can find you wants to improve your rest with lifestyle or drug treatments.

    Spider Veins: They are just broken blood vessels; caused by standing for long periods can cause your blood to pool in your leg veins, causing them to enlarge. With age, the skin becomes thinner, so veins become more apparent.
    Varicose Veins: Varicose veins are very common and not often a sign of bad circulation, but it can be associated with deep vein thrombosis, in which a blood clot develops that can break off and travel to the lungs.

    Freckles and age spots: These pockets of pigment usually crop up in midlife for three reasons: sun damage, genetics and hormonal changes. There's nothing wrong with freckles-the problem is people usually can't tell which are freckles and which are troubling moles. So err on the side of getting them checked at your annual full-body exam with your dermatologist.
    Moles: Moles have the potential to become cancerous. More than one million people are diagnosed with skin cancer every year. If a mole is bleeding or looks markedly different than it used to, your doc should check it out.

    For more information, go to