Mar. 27, 2014 — -- A Spanish woman who used her phone for more than six hours, exerting "continuous movements with both thumbs to send messages," has been diagnosed with "WhatAppItis," or injuries relating to overuse of the popular social messaging app.
Dr. Ines Fernandez-Guerrero, of Granada's General University hospital, documented the condition in respected medical journal, "The Lancet" this week.
Fernandez-Guerrero wrote that the unidentified 34-year-old, pregnant patient first came to her after waking up one morning with sudden pain in both wrists.
The patient had been using her smartphone continuously on Christmas day to respond to messages sent to her via instant messaging service WhatsApp, the doctor wrote. As the patient held her smart phone, which weighed roughly 4.5 ounces, she made "continuous movements with both thumbs to send messages" for at least six hours.
With no history of trauma and not having engaged in any "excessive physical activity in the previous days," the patient's mysterious repetitive stress injury was diagnosed as "WhatsAppitis" and Fernandez-Guerrero banned her from using her smartphone.
"Because of the patient's pregnancy, x-rays were not taken to rule out rhizarthrosis [arthritis of the thumb]," the doctor added.
The patient also received non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, but didn't manage to abstain from using her phone for very long, shooting new text messages on New Year's Eve, the doctor said.
At the end of the medical report, Fernandez-Guerrero noted similarities between WhatAppitis and video game-related health problems documented in the New England Journal of Medicine. Those include so-called Nintendinitis (also known as gamers grip), first diagnosed in 1990s, and later a case of Acute Wiitis in 2007.
"Tenosynovitis caused by texting with mobile phones could well be an emerging disease," Fernandez-Guerrero concluded. "Physicians need to be mindful of these new disorders."
In 2009, ABC News reported that Elise Bacolas threw her shoulder out from playing too much Wii, was unable to move her arm and was forced to start physical therapy.
Bacolas' doctor, Neil Roth, who practices at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, told ABC News that in the months preceding the case he had "seen anywhere from 10 to 12 new Wii injuries, most of them related to a little exuberant overuse."