Texting and Neck & Arm Pain

Texting and Neck & Arm PainNeck and arm pain related to texting is a growing phenomenon. Initially referred to as “BlackBerry thumb,” the repetitive stress that comes from excessive use of a wireless device’s tiny keyboard to send text messages has been found to strain muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the hand, arm and neck. In addition, prolonged flexed-neck posture, or “hunching over,” as the keyboard is manipulated can cause cervical nerve disruption accompanied by acute or chronic neck pain. This non-traumatic pain often radiates down the arm causing a combined pain that is greater that arm or neck pain alone. Similar outcomes have long been associated with using a computer keyboard.

It is predicted that if excessive texting behavior continues unabated, the number of nerve-related disorders such as osteoarthritis and degenerative disc disease will increase and lead to a debilitating pain syndrome that negatively impacts school and/or work performance. A more immediate concern is that inflammation of the basal joint at the base of the thumb due to excessive texting will result in thumb arthritis. This condition manifests itself in hand pain, swelling, decreased strength and limited range of motion.

Simple steps to take to prevent the development of a texting-related pain include:

  • Stopping texting at the first sign of discomfort or pain – if you can’t stop, cut back on the number of messages sent each day
  • Try to avoid hunching over – position the keyboard in such a manner as to limit pressure on your neck and upper back muscles as they work to keep your head from falling forward
  • Don’t sit in the same position for long periods of time
  • Use both thumbs – and give your thumbs a rest when typing long messages.

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