Summary: Carpal tunnel used to be an artifact of the white-collar, computer driven working world. But now teens seem to be getting carpal tunnel from texting. First, this gives us a clear picture of just how much teens are texting, and second, it makes us wonder what we can do to treat carpal tunnel. Braces might help in the short term, but you might require surgery in the long term.
Blast From the Past
We think of carpal tunnel syndrome as an ailment almost exclusive to the white-collar office world: people that type e. mails and use a mouse and write computer code all day. And while that’s true, carpal tunnel is also something that effects a great number of people through a more covert—and perhaps more alarming—way: text messages.
An Apt Name
Carpal tunnel is the result of repeated movement of the carpals (your fingers). The tendons in your wrist can become inflamed, squeezing the nerves that run through what is known as the carpal tunnel (hence, carpal tunnel syndrome) and cause pain, tingling, and other complications. In May of 2010, ABC news reported on a teen that was suffering from carpal tunnel because she was sending too many text messages.
Now, keep in mind, this was four years ago, and since then, we’ve become even more attached to our smart phones. Now we’re sending text messages and checking Facebook (or Pinterest or Twitter). The keyboards have changed, yes, but it’s the repetitive motion that tends to cause carpal tunnel, so even touch-screen users could be susceptible. Symptoms of carpal tunnel might include:
- Tingling in your fingers
- Numbness in your fingers
- Weakness in your hands
- Dropping objects
If you see this symptoms in your teen, you should contact your doctor immediately. The cosmetic surgeons in Houston area Clear Lake Hand Center specialize in treating carpal tunnel surgically, which is often the most effective means of eliminating pain. During surgery, room is made for the expanded and inflamed nerves and tendons which cause the pain. Because it is in a highly-visible area, surgeons also take great care to minimize scars that could be a consequence of the operation.
Keep an Eye Out… and Stop Texting So Much
Carpal tunnel first became part of the public discourse because of a huge increase in the number of people using computers. Because of this, there were some infrastructure changes in that arena, from gel pads on everyone’s mouse to specially designed keyboards. And while that’s helped, we still see cases of carpal tunnel quite often.
It seems that texting might be signaling a new wave of carpal tunnel. There are certainly some things you can try before surgery. Braces can reduce the pain significantly, but only within limits. Indeed, the only thing that can truly “cure” carpal tunnel is to cease the activity which causes it. A person writing code might depend on typing for a livelihood, but texting teens certainly don’t.
As a parent, you can take care to limit your teen’s screen time, if for no other reason than to avoid a possibly intense surgical procedure and the following recovery. If your teen absolutely must text, remember that most smart phones now possess technology that allows a teen to talk their text messages out (why they don’t just send a phone call, I don’t know, but I’m probably just too old to understand that kind of thing). This could significantly help with pain caused by carpal tunnel syndrome because it limits the repetitive movements.
Now that we know texting can lead to carpal tunnel, we can keep an eye out for it. If you think your teen is suffering, contact your doctor or surgeon today.