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R U texting 2 much? It could lead to shoulder pain

November 11, 2009 |  2:57 pm

Hunched over their cellphones and hand-held computers, people text all day long, fingers busily pressing out messages like, "R U OK?"

Kshqspnc All that stooping and digit-moving may have some physiological consequences, according to a new study presented at the annual meeting and exposition this week of the American Public Health Assn. in Philadelphia.

In the preliminary study, researchers sent out a questionnaire to 138 college students asking how many texts they sent per day. The survey also included a body map. They found a link between higher numbers of text messages and feeling discomfort in the shoulders. After separating the study group by gender, the association was seen more strongly in men than in women.

Although researchers stressed that more investigation needs to be done, they added that it might be a good idea to keep an eye on musculoskeletal symptoms among people who use hand-held computers.

"What we've seen so far is very similar to what we see with office workers who've spent most of their time at a computer," lead author Judith Gold said in a news release. Gold is assistant professor of epidemiology at the College of Health Professions and Social Work at Temple University in Philadelphia. "The way the body is positioned for texting -- stationary shoulders and back with rapidly moving fingers -- is similar to the position for typing on a computer," she added. Although text messaging hasn't been around that long, health experts are familiar with repetitive stress injuries from computer overuse.

"Looking around our campus, you see every student on their cellphones, typing away," Gold said. "It's the age group that texts the most, so it's important to know what the health effects may be to learn whether it will cause long-term damage."

-Jeannine Stein

Photo credit: Karen Bleier / AFP/Getty Images