A Case of Carpal Tunnel


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    The cell phone and use of text messaging is the somewhat new technology that is sweeping the world, especially the United States. Not only are teenagers and young adults using text messaging to communicate with friends, family, and even coaches and instructors but the texting age population is starting to have a much broader range.  It is almost sickening to find out that 51% of 12 year-olds to 84% of 17 year-olds own cell phones and 76% of those people use their cell phones for purely texting purposes.  According to Journalstar.com "71 percent of 17 year-old cell phone owners say they talk to their friends daily on the cell phone [using text messaging].  Only 38 percent say they talk face-to-face with their friends daily." 

   texting-teens-graph.jpg

    According to The Nielsen Company, the average American teenager sends about 3,339 text messages per month.  However, the number of text messages sent per month also varies on the age of the teenager.  As you can see from the graph above, the age span of 13-17 years-old has the most text messages per month and is the closest to the average.  With all this texting, could there be any side effects that end up causing harm to those who so frequently send messages to their friends?

    After researching what possible consequences are of excessive text messaging, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome seemed to appear most frequent.  Annie Levitz, for example, a 16 year-old girl from Chicago, was diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome as her symptoms became increasingly worse over time.  It started off with just sporadic shooting pains in her hand muscles and joins and overtime she lost her ability to grip everyday objects.  Levitz, a high school Junior, was said to send about 100 text messages per day.  Per doctor's orders, Levitz is required to wear braces on both her hands at night and sometimes during the day depending on the level of pain she is experiencing.  "I definitely regret it... It's painful first of all.  It's embarrassing wearing the braces and having people know - it's not the greatest" Levitz claims.

ht_Annie_Levitz_100319_wl-1.jpg A picture of Annie Levitz, a 16 year-old teenage girl who was diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome caused by excessive texting. 

    Many people believe that this kind of problem will not happen to them or their text messaging will not create that big of a consequence.  However, Dr. Aksentijevich claims that Carpal Tunnel is when the median nerve, which extends from the forearm to the hand, becomes compressed at the wrist.  When making repetitive, small motions such as text messaging, irritated tendons or other swelling can pinch the nerves inside the narrow "carpal tunnel".  

   How can one prevent this from happening to them?  Doctors say to slow down on the amount of text messages sent per day and to possibly have parents restrict their children on the amount of text messages sent per day only to help prevent future harm.  It's up to each person but is the risk really worth it?


Sources:

http://journalstar.com/texting-and-teens-facts-figures-and-more/article_81ca3552-941c-11de-95c1-001cc4c002e0.html

http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/teen-carpal-tunnel-texting/story?id=10146773#.UIXKTrTufww


2 Comments

Women are 3 times more likely than men to have carpal tunnel. However, women also text more than men. These findings shocked me because in movies you always see men with carpal tunnel. This is probably due to the humorous connection between men with carpal tunnel and self pleasure... However women are actually the guilty ones! It is speculated that women are much more likely to get carpel tunnel because of the smaller size of their carpal tunnel and hormone changes. This supports the fact that women are even more likely to get carpal tunnel when pregnant or in menopause. NY Times Health did a very good job summarizing carpal tunnel and who is at risk.

This is a very interesting article. The first thing i want to say is that your graph showed kids around the age of 17 often send the most texts a month. You may wonder why is that? Often enough that is when kids start to become very active socially both with friends and even girls who they date. Texting is an easy way to communicate and make plans which at that age are very important. As you get older you start to see your friends more face to face and relationships start to become more sophisticated. You may also call your friends more and not have to text as much. You also may have a job at that point which could limit your time to text. I also want to point out that in the future other technological appliances may cause the same problem. Things such as TVs and even computers often make you use your fingers to change the channel or type things. I would like to see a blog that may show if there are any proven scientific facts that link other everyday objects to carple tunnel due to the avid use of your hands.

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