Dealing with Blackberry Thumb

Seven's On Call with Dr. Jay Adlersberg
August 6, 2008 3:56:18 PM PDT
New hand held communication devices make so many things more accessible to us but there's a price to pay. It's called blackberry thumb. Its hard to get away from the office, particularly if you have contact with your office, your friends and the entire world right at your hands. One of the most popular devices, the blackberry, has given the name to a malady known as 'blackberry thumb.' We walk and text and sit and text, and its the thumbs that are sometimes taking a beating. Its a repetitive moment that can affect the soft tissue around the thumb joint. "Anytime there's repetitive use of any body part whether elbow, wrists or now thumbs, the tendons will become inflamed and there's gonna be pathology in the area," said Dr. Wayne Winnick. Its a problem Melissa Katz knows well. The frequently flying businesswoman was relying heavily on her mobile device and the long painful search for relief eventually landed her in Dr. Winnick's office. It had all started with pain in her thumbs, which she at first, paid no attention to. I thought I would get over it in time but the reverse happened. It went from bad to very very bad pretty quickly," said Katz. Very bad, going from her thumbs to her hands, and forearms which she said felt like lead. It took a full year of therapy to eventually get her back the use of her hands. During that time ,she couldn't use a computer or even do simple chores. She adds, "I couldn't take groceries out of bags. I couldn't take a jug of milk out of the refrigerator. I found it painful to drive long periods and I was unable to use my hands very easily." How much texting is too much? Noone knows, and noone is keeping track of injuries either. But experts like Winnick suggest theres a way to avoid injury.
  • Use abbreviations
  • Use other fingers besides your thumbs
  • limit texting or take frequent breaks.
    Pay attention before the damage works it way up. "Understand that if you have any condition, particularly Blackberry Thumb, and it exists long enough, it's going to begin to involve other structures like the forearms and the shoulders too," adds Dr. Winnick. Now, how about the joint damage. Can arthritis set in after 5, 10 or 20 years of heavy use. Time will tell. We've only been texting for a few years so as we learn more, we can take more care. But doctors are already talking about blackberry neck, Too much of that pose looking down at your chest. So take car.

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    STORY BY: Eyewitness News medical reporter: Dr. Jay Adlersberg
    WEB PRODUCED BY: Scott Curkin

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