Who doesn’t love whatsapp!! Not only is this an amazing user friendly messaging app popular amongst the youth of today, but it can be called as one of the most used app on any mobile interface- be it iOS, android or any other. I admit to using it for the past 2-3 years myself.
But, recently I came across a shocking news of a new disorder being enlisted called Whatsappitis! I wasn’t sure whether to regard it as spam or just a mischief of the competing messaging app developers. Eventually, when leading medical journals published the entity along with a sample case, it was confirmed that Whatsappitis does exist for real!
So if you’re a person who has a habit of whatsapp-ing for with continuous movements of both thumbs to send messages, do watch out for the below. Signs and symptoms consist of bilateral wrist pain with sudden onset, no history of trauma or any excessive physical activity in the past days. Hands examination will reveal discomfort upon bilateral palpation of wrist and mobilisation of the thumb. On examination, positive for Finkelstein’s sign. The diagnosis in medical terms is bilateral extensor pollicis longus tendinitis of the thumb, which simply means inflammation of both thumbs’ muscles.
The diagnosis for this kind of bilateral wrist pain was ultimately described as a new modern-day disorder called WhatsAppitis, categorised under entity called repetitive strain injury or RSI. RSIs are also known as cumulative trauma disorders, repetitive stress injuries, repetitive motion injuries or disorders, musculoskeletal disorders, and occupational or sports overuse syndromes. Specific sources of RSIs have been popularly referred to as Blackberry thumb, iPod finger, Playstation thumb, Rubik’s wrist or “cuber’s thumb”, stylus finger, raver’s wrist, and Emacs pinky, etc. The treatment of basic analgesics or pain killers and complete abstinence from using the phone to send messages should usually lead to recovery. Although, long term consequences still remain unclear.
This was earlier called Nintendinitis, first described in 1990, and since then many injuries associated with video games and new technologies have been coming in purview. This was initially reported in children. But with the advent of smart phones and free messaging and gaming apps now, such cases are seen more in adults. This category of tenosynovitis caused by texting with cellular phones could well be regarded as an emerging disease.
Not only are many physicians unaware of this, but even the public as a whole tends to regard this a joke. But honestly, its not. Better be mindful of these new disorders and my sincere advice would be moderation in time of mobile phone usage per day. Lest you want you end up with a sore thumb!
Dr. Aafreen Kotadiya