Old people get “BlackBerry Thumb”


Thumbs UpWe all know the stories: late night email-fests, feverishly trying to keep in touch with the office at 3 am from your hotel to make sure your team makes the morning deadline — and then the pain that follows. Yes, “BlackBerry Thumb” is a right of passage for many CrackBerry addicts — a sign that you will go all the way to get the job done.

A recent article is suggesting that the pains induced by email all-nighters are not being felt by the younger generation, despite their high propensity for texting and the fact that they often have to press twice as much because of non-QWERTY cell phones.

Dr. Keith Raskin, a hand surgeon at NYU Medical Center, breaks it down for us like so:

“Normally joints are covered in a healthy, viscous fluid called synovial fluid, which acts as a lubricant and shock absorber, but with aging, the fluid thins and is less effective,” Raskin said. “The kids are more tolerant. The kids are less common, but the adults have older joints.”

In 2004, there were 402,700 musculoskeletal disorders, averaging about 10 lost work days a year, and an increase from 399,722 in 2001, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Raskin believes the increase can be attributed to the frequency and duration of use of devices like the BlackBerry, but also keyboards and video game systems.

However, news like this won’t stop true BlackBerry users. Just listen to the words of one Glenn Potolsky. 38, Glenn is an investment banker and BlackBerry user who had pain in his arms and wrists for several years before opting for endoscopic carpal tunnel surgery when physical therapy didn’t alleviate the numbness in his fingers. He had operations on both wrists in 2004 and last year, as well as surgery in each arm for cubital tunnel syndrome, which causes numbness and tingling in fingers.

“It is my understanding that this stuff came from a genetic predisposition, but using devices may have complicated the situation,” Potolsky said. “Whether there could have been some therapy early on to mitigate the problem, maybe, but I didn’t address it for too long to know. I feel great, and absolutely I will continue to use my BlackBerry.

Good man, Glenn. Good man.