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June 10th, 2009
12:11 PM ET

I'm addicted – and it's starting to hurt!

Danielle at home, on her blackberryBy Danielle Dellorto
CNN Medical Producer

They say the first step in breaking any addiction is admitting you have a problem. For years I’ve brushed off my husband’s “intervention” attempts. But lately I’ve begun to experience the physical side effects of my addiction (more on that later) and it’s forced me to think about how often I get my “fix.’”

Turns out, my husband was right all along.
My name is Danielle and I’m addicted to my Blackberry.

It’s the last thing I look at before I go to bed; it even sleeps next to me on the nightstand. I set my alarm 20 minutes early so I can read and respond to e-mails before I get in the shower each morning. I’ve pulled over while driving to answer an e-mail and, yes, my whole day feels out of whack if I’ve forgotten my trusty device at home.

I know I’m not alone. Look around at the mall, at a restaurant, at a baseball game and you’ll see most adults with their devices out.

It's not always work related. As technology advances, our phones have become personal computers – we’re tweeting (follow me: @daniellecnn),updating our Facebook status, looking up movie times, and refreshing our favorite Web sites to see what’s happening while we’re out and about.

Wireless devices aren’t the Antichrist of course, but too much of any good thing can take a toll both mentally and physically.

It may sound silly to say out loud, but my thumb really hurts! My left thumb aches more than the right. Sometimes I feel a shooting pain at the base; other times it just throbs. These are classic symptoms of tendinitis and arthritis, and doctors say they’re a side effect of my addiction.

The overuse of motion from typing for hours primarily with your thumb causes a lot of undo stress and inflammation. The thumb has one less joint than the rest of the fingers so that may explain why it’s more sensitive to injury than our other three-jointed digits. Experts say the easy cure for mild pain caused by overuse is simple – don’t use it as much! “I usually find that if a patient was to just reduce the workload or reduce the repetitive nature of this condition, their symptoms will resolve,” said hand surgeon Dr. Keith Raskin of New York University Medical Center.

Being a pain in the thumb is one thing, but what about the toll wireless devices may be taking on our social lives?

I use to think of myself as a master juggler. Pretty proud I could balance my role as the ultimate wife and employee flawlessly around-the-clock via my Blackberry! But then my one day my husband started to literally thank me for leaving my Blackberry in the room during our vacation. A day of my full, undistracted attention was a treat for him.

What a reality check. Guess I’m not so great at “juggling” as I thought. But I am getting better. I no longer jump to check my device every time it buzzes at night and I don’t bring it to the dinner table anymore either (baby steps!). I did ask him why he never flat out told me how much my antics bothered him. He said he had told me several times. Apparently, I was typing away at the time and only half-listening. Yikes! Sorry about that, honey.

So now I want to hear your story! Is your thumb achy too? What works to relieve your pain? Is being connected to your wireless device 24/7 taking a toll on your social life? What’s your advice?


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About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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