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Experts Point To Texting As Teens Begin To Suffer From Thumb Tendonitis

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- There is a health alert for people addicted to texting on their smartphone, which pretty much means almost everyone under the age of 30.

As CBS2's Dr. Max Gomez explained, all that texting can lead to a rash of hand problems.

Everyone knows that texting while driving is dangerous, and the typical smartphone posture can lead to neck problems.

Now, it seems too much texting can cause a rash of something called thumb tendonitis.

Texting and social media are habits that some find hard to break.

Henley Bland admitted it's hard to put his phone down, but lately he hasn't had much of a choice.

"A few weeks ago I started getting hand cramps," he said.

Like most teens, Henley is an avid texter, so the likely cause of his thumb pain was pretty clear.

"Sometimes it's off and on, some nights it might not hurt, but then others it might," Bland said.

A recent study found that an average smartphone user might click, tap, or swipe on their device about 2,000 times a day.

Many so-called excessive users -- including many teens -- might do that more than 5,000 times a day.

No wonder it hurts.

"In general what they come in with is either catching or locking or pain association with their thumbs," Dr. Theresa Wyrick explained.

The diagnosis is tendonitis -- a painful condition in which the tendons connecting muscle to bone become inflamed. The problem is that our thumbs aren't designed to do that much repetitive activity.

"What happens is that the tendons that flex the thumb and the tendons that straighten the thumb get overused or inflamed and that's what causes the pain associated with that," Dr. Wyrick said. "They can actually get scarring or fibrosis in tendons which can cause damage to our tendons in the long run."

Not surprisingly, doctors advise that sufferers put their phone down and take frequent breaks.

"Ideally, what you would do, you would put it down on the table and use your index finger and that can really help to rest the thumbs and give them a break," Dr. Wyrick said.

Breaking that constant texting habit isn't easy, but sometimes you just gotta do it.

"I think now I'm going to push it back even more," Bland said.

It's not just teens who're getting thumb tendonitis. Doctors are seeing patients from 10 to 79.

It's not just our fingers and thumbs we need to worry about. Excessive texting can affect the elbow, the shoulder, even the neck can get muscle strain.




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