Doctors have warned that continuous texting either on your mobile phone, laptop. Ipad or any of your electronic gadgets can give you a medical condition known as ‘textitis’ (osteoarthritis), a kind of arthritis that comes from texting.
The term textitis was coined after American hand surgeon Dr Mark Ciaglia revealed last month how patients with problems in their joints are getting increasingly younger.
He now sees patients younger than 40, compared to just a few years ago when almost all were at least 50. He knew what was to blame. And so he said:
“With texting and video games and excessive use of computers and typing, you are wearing the joints out sooner.”
British physiotherapist Sammy Margo agrees stated that:
“Historically we rarely treated hands, it was mainly spines but now the incidence of hand problems as well as spine problems is on the increase.”
“We’re seeing people who have these injuries and they’re just the tip of the iceberg. That’s because children leaving school today are the first generation to have grown up with touch screens, so I fear we’re heading towards a ticking time-bomb for so many.”
Margo added that our opposing thumbs were designed to create things, to mould things, not to constantly do small repetitive movements like we do when we text.
Women are more likely than men to have osteoarthritis and people can also be genetically predisposed to it.
According to Rod Hughes, a rheumatologist, gaming and texting can cause two problems in our hands: First there is the immediate problem of the overuse of tendons from the thumb to the forearm. This tendon overstrain is painful but it doesn’t cause osteoarthritis.
Then there is the overuse of the carpo-metacarpal joint at the base of the thumb. This can produce a clicking or cracking sensation at the bottom of the thumb due to ligament strain. This may predispose you to osteoarthritis in later years.
While there are several causes for osteoarthritis, the degenerative form of the condition is often caused by wear and tear.
It occurs when the smooth cartilage which covers the end of bones and helps the joints to move smoothly becomes thinner and rougher. The bone underneath attempts to repair the damage but sometimes overgrows, altering the joint’s shape.
Usually the joints that get most use, such as hips and knees, are most likely to be affected but our increased use of laptops and smart phones makes our fingers and thumbs work so hard (the average person touches their phone 2,500 times a day) experts are now increasingly seeing the problem in our hands, too.
While there is no cure for osteoarthritis, it can be managed so that it doesn’t worsen.
We are advised to keep exercising the joint and to lose any excess weight to avoid extra strain being put on joints, while Doctors recommend ibuprofen to relieve severe pain.