The Pain of Staying Connected

"One thing that we tell patients here is that old adage 'stop, look and listen.' We've sort of revamped that for the hand-held devices," he said. He tells patients to stop using their devices if they start to feel pain, to look at how much pressure they're using to press the keys and reduce it as much as they can, and to listen to their bodies for cues on when they need rest.

This is especially important, as people use different devices and in different ways.

"A lot depends on the type of device," said N. George Kasparyan, director of hand surgery at Lahey Clinic in Burlington, Mass. "A lot depends on the extent of use."

To help steer clear of these injuries, experts recommend that people limit the number of e-mails and text messages they send from a hand-held device each day, and try to respond with more succinct answers to reduce the number of keystrokes. They also suggest that people take breaks, stretch out their hands, and keep their muscles relaxed to help blood flow.

Miller said, "By appropriately using the devices, you'll have a lot less problem."

And if that doesn't work, there's always the option of going cold turkey.

Brown said, "Usually if there's a person who's using it quite a bit, I'll ask them to stop, and they seem to get a positive benefit."

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