Got 'BlackBerry Thumb'? Rest UR digits

Anyone who sits in front of a computer all day has probably had a wrist twitch-inspired "maybe I have Carpal Tunnel" moment.

Well, worry-prone technophiles, here's another malady to add to your list of concerns: BlackBerry Thumb, a trendy new repetitive-stress injury said to afflict those who excessively use their thumbs to pound out e-mails and text messages on tiny handheld keyboards.

Credit: RIM

According to the Newark Star Ledger, as the sizes and prices of handheld typing devices continue to shrink, some U.S. doctors and physical therapists are urging consumers to treat their on-the-go text messaging as they would any physical workout.

Yep, that means pre-text stretching to prevent swollen thumb tendons and cramped and stiff fingers, they say. Thumb-stabilizer splints may help assuage this Carpal Tunnel-type ailment, which doctors also treat with anti-inflammatory medicine and physical therapy.

"If I tell you to run a marathon and you're not in shape for it, you'd think I'm crazy," says Jules Steimnitz, a San Francisco physiatrist who treats repetitive stress injuries. But when it comes to text messaging, "people don't know what they can and can't do. People don't think of it as an activity using the muscles and tendons and ligaments."

U.S. doctors' warnings come three years after the British Chiropractic Association said regular text messaging could cause RSI.

But while personal accounts of BlackBerry Thumb can be handily found on the Internet, some RSI watchers are quick to caution that the condition is far from widespread and is likely no worse than the "Nintendo Thumb" of the '90s.
About the author

Leslie Katz, Crave's senior editor, heads up a team that covers the most crushworthy (and wackiest) tech, science, and culture around. As a co-host of the now-retired CNET News Daily Podcast, she was sometimes known to channel Terry Gross and still uses her trained "podcast voice" to bully the speech recognition software on automated customer service lines. E-mail Leslie.


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