In January of 2017 Applied Ergonomics published a 5 year study of over 7000 people between the ages of 20 and 24 to examine whether texting on a mobile phone is a risk factor for musculoskeletal disorders in the neck and upper extremities.

The researchers found that almost all the individuals with symptoms had the neck flexed forward and did not support their arms while texting.  Additionally, they held their phone with one hand and used only one thumb, implying increased repetitive movements in the hand and fingers.  This distinguished them from the group without symptoms, in which it was more common to sit with a straight neck, have supported forearms and to hold the phone with two hands and use both thumbs.  The researchers also found associations between text messaging and reported pain and numbness/tingling in the hand/fingers for both men and women.  The people who texted the most, which was considered to be more than 20 texts/day for the study, had the strongest associations with pain.

However, women had less incidence of pain due to texting, perhaps due to women having a higher texting velocity  than men and therefore spending less time than men on the same texting task.  The authors also noted that flexing the neck more than 20 degrees for more than 40% of the working day was a risk factor for sick leave due to neck pain.

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