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Excessive Texting Leads to Bone Damage

February 15, 2012

While padded lamp posts might keep you from hurting yourself when you run into it while texting, one things for certain…all that padding won’t protect the damage excessive texting can have on your bones.

We’ve known for a long time that texting is hazardous when you also try to multi-task, like walking down a busy London street, but we are now seeing more direct injuries to people from what’s been called excessive texting.

And the problem is only going to get worse.

What Is Excessive Texting? And Who Is At Risk?

Excessive texting is sending 3,000 to 10,000 a month. That breaks down to over 100 to 300 a day, which is typically done in a 16 hour period, if we calculate for the time that people sleep.

But it’s not just the texters who are at risk. This is also true for gamers. As I explained in a recent interview with Fox News [Texting Can Be Dangerous to Your Bones], wWhat exacerbates the problem is that teenagers are texting all day and then coming home to play games all night.

This is why I’m seeing teenagers come into my office with growth plate damage to their hands. Parents are giving young children, 10 and 11 years old, phones, while their bones are still growing…and then they are texting all day, leading other injuries like tendinitis and stress fractures. [Read my The Dangers of Stress Fractures to Young Adults for more on this issue.[

Is Bone Damage Due to Excessive Texting Permanent?

All the injuries that I usually see–the trigger finger with the clicking of the finger–when teenagers walk into my office are reversible. You just have to get the teenager to stop texting or gaming. Will they do that forever? Not likely. So they’ll eventually pick it back up and re-injure their bones.

Unfortunately I’ve seen too many growth plate issues in teenagers that are not irreversible. I’ve seen actual bone changes and growth plate changes. These 10 and 11 year olds are getting phones as the bone is still growing in their hands, which leads to damage.

How Do You Prevent These Injuries?

The only prevention is to stop texting–or severely limit use. But like I said above, that’s not going to happen.

The companies that make the phones need to design them so that the buttons are actually bigger, but that’s also not likely to happen because the trend is to making the phone smaller.

The buttons also need to be easier to push, so that the compressing is not so difficult. Voice-activated texting is also an option, something like Siri for iPhones.

If you have a teenager who is complaining about pain or aches in his or her fingers, visit your doctor immediately.

Dr. Rick Lehman is a distinguished orthopedic surgeon in St. Louis, Missouri and an articular cartilage reconstruction pioneer. He owns U. S. Sports Medicine in Kirkwood, MO, and LehmanHealth. Learn more about Dr. Rick.

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