Texting causes carpal tunnel

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Annie Levitz, a 16-yearold teen from Adlai Stevenson High School, was recently diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome due to her avid text-messaging.

Most teens today do not stop to think between one word texts, to ponder the fatal consequences of such a seemingly innocent addiction.

What is CTS?

The carpal tunnel is a narrow tunnel in the center of the wrist containing tendons and major nerves.

“[CTS] occurs when the median nerve, running from the forearm into the hand, is compressed at the wrist,” said Sonali Patankar who is an occupational therapist for hand and upper extremity rehabilitation. “The compression is a result of extreme flexion of the wrist over prolonged periods of time causing inflammation.”

Symptoms of CTS

The median nerve supplies sensation to your thumb, index finger, middle finger and half of the ring finger. When the median nerve is compressed, it can cause numbness to those fingers.
Usually people begin to experience symptoms by waking them when they are sleeping. These symptoms include pain, paresthesia, which is when the limb falls asleep, tingling and burning. CTS is a condition that gets progressively worse so these symptoms should not go ignored.

Causes of CTS

CTS often occurs in adults and industrial workers, usually due to a predisposing medical condition aggravated by work stress and psychological and social stressors. However, in Levitz’s case, it was the repeated use of her cell phone.

“Some people have smaller [carpal] tunnels than others, [making them more prone to CTS] so it can occur to anyone at any age,” certified hand therapist Karen Forester said. “I’ve seen it from a man who constantly worked on his Blackberry and it can also happen with kids playing video games too often.”

According to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Post, the school’s health center reported a 92 percent increase in diagnoses for 2009. The study shows that this is directly related to excessive texting.

Today’s Texting Generation

Today texting is not only a necessity in an average teen’s life as a silent form of communication, creating easy-access with parents rather than leaving what would be a disregarded voicemail, but it also has plenty of disadvantages. Texting can land anyone in numerous types of turmoil, whether it be car accidents, administrative trouble at school or even cancer from radiation, according to the Environmental Working Group.

“I got my texting taken away because last month I had over 14,000 [text messages],” sophomore Carnation Anagnostiadis said. “I have no regrets, texting is amazing.”