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Beware the 'Blackberry Thumb'
Date:6/15/2008

the problem lies." .

Symptoms of "Blackberry thumb" include pain and numbness in the thumbs and joints of the hand.

Most people who rely on PDAs wouldn't readily give them up, even for an injury, so it's fortunate that there are treatments available.

Crowe's first suggestion is to take a break from the device for just a little while. "If it's painful, switch your activity until you feel rested. Don't try to work through pain thinking it will go away. Take a vacation if you can," she recommended.

"Try to do more on your computer. Don't write phone books on your PDA. Limit yourself to 'yes' or 'no' answers when you can," advised Dr. Charles Leinberry Jr., a hand and wrist specialist at the Rothman Institute at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.

Leinberry, who is also an assistant clinical professor of orthopedic surgery at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, said that splinting, usually with a custom-made splint worn while you're sleeping, can relieve some of the pressure on your thumb and other joints, and improve your symptoms.

Both Crowe and Leinberry said it's important to pay attention to your workspace ergonomics to make sure you're not putting any extra stress on your thumb and hands. Crowe added that many times, small changes in the work area can have a big impact on your health.

"Getting a new office or doing more work at home -- possibly at the dining room table -- can throw off your posture," she said, which can result in muscle and nerve disorders like tendonitis or carpal tunnel syndrome.

Crowe also recommended icing the injured area. And, both experts suggested doing strengthening exercises once the pain subsides. Ask your physician or physical or occupational therapist to show you what to do.

In the worst cases, Leinberry said that cortisone shots or surgery can be helpful.

But, he also pointed out, most people never have a si
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