Here in Barbados we say, “Yuh nevah miss de water till de well run dry.” I profusely apologize if my quotation is not 100 per cent Bajan since according to my friends I am a ‘fifty-fifty brand’. I do hope, however, that we are on the same page.
The wrist joint is one of those things we take for granted and it is only when it is put out of commission, for whatever reason, that we recognise how necessary it is. De Quervain’s tenosynovitis (pronounced de-queer-vains teen-oh-sigh-no-vi-tis) is a painful condition which affects the wrist. Unfortunately, the exact underlying cause is not known. Things that make the condition worse include gardening, lifting a baby or anything that involves repeated movement at the hand or wrist.
You would suspect this condition plagues you if:
• There is pain at the base of the thumb
• Swelling at the base of the thumb
• Pain on grasping or pinching
It is always advisable that if you think you may have De Quervain’s tenosynovitis that you visit your health care provider for an accurate diagnosis, as these symptoms can be found in other conditions. One such condition is ‘Cellphonitis’.
I stumbled upon this syndrome in which the symptoms of our topic of discussion today are featured. In addition to wrist problems, ‘cellphonitis’ also causes neck deformities, headache and loss of brain power.
It is easy to see how this modern-day disease would cause wrist pain due to the almost incessant messaging that we do today. Tweeting, Instagram and Facebook posts and WhatsApp messages are sent at rapid speed before an individual’s feet have hit the ground and he or she has had breakfast. Even if one is on vacation there are emails for which an impossible boss needs an immediate response with severe repercussions if same is not received expediently.
Explaining the neck deformity is also easy. If you ponder a bit, you will realise that to read your cell phone you flex or bend your neck instead of raising the phone to eye level. Should this current trend continue we will have a generation of persons with permanently flexed necks.
As with other diseases, ‘cellphonitis’ has complications, one of which is headache. What follows is a ‘case study’ of a young lady I suspected had ‘cellphonitis’.
I happened to be walking on the same street as she was and I noticed her thumbs flying across the screen of her cell phone. As she continued on her journey I realised she had the classic neck flexion (bent neck) associated with the disease. A few steps thereafter I heard a resounding thud that seemed to echo for several seconds. The subject’s head had ironically collided with an innocent pedestrian crossing sign on the sidewalk.
She did not appear any worse the wear for her trauma and she continued with the same oblivious attitude which is synonymous with this illness. I did not envy the headache she would encounter later that day.
I posit that it is the repeated head trauma that leads to the next symptom of ‘cellphonitis’. At the end stages of the disease, subjects apparently lose the ability to communicate with family and friends, and are unable to write in standard English.
I received a text from an individual with end-stage cellphonitis which I will try to recreate as I fortunately am immune to this disease. It probably read as follows:
‘gm hru I ws wndrin if u got my mssg last nite we hve 2 link b4 u go tmr’
I must confess that I nearly passed out when I received the text and had reign in my indignation by recognising that the sender was merely suffering from a disease of the times.
There is no cure, and sufferers are being affected at earlier and earlier stages of life. And there seems to be a strong component of addiction within the younger demographic.
As with De Quervain’s tenosynovitis, if you suspect that you have this disease, ‘cellphonitis’, you should contact your physician for an accurate diagnosis and possible treatment. I hasten to caution that treatments are limited at present due to the novelty of this illness. However, there seems to be great success in those patients who put down their cell phones and interact with friends and family. I am sure there will be ongoing research into this disease to prevent any epidemic… or are we too late?
(Renee Boyce is a medical doctor, a wife, a mother and a Christian, who is committed to Barbados’ development. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org)