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September 01, 2021

Philadelphia woman has "BlackBerry thumb surgery"

Well, it happened. It really  happened.

Back in June of 2009, when I had the misfortunate of passing along news that “cell phone elbow” – a new, very real affliction born out of society’s overuse of mobile phones – had debuted in the medical lexicon, the story had an regrettable aura of inevitability.

Because, not unlike the Tommy John surgery of Stephen Strasburg, we kind of all feared something like this might be coming. We knew we were addicted to phones, we just didn’t want the embarrassment of needing a doctor’s attention because of it.

But this, this has to take the cake.

Topping even the humiliating stigma of “cell phone elbow,” a Philadelphia woman has just had what’s been called “BlackBerry thumb surgery,” an operation that removed the inflamed tendons in her thumbs from spending so much time each day on her phone.

The unnamed woman, a mortgage banker, told WTSP Tampa that she uses her iPhone (don’t ask why it’s not called iPhone thumb surgery) up to 12 hours a day, texting back and forth with clients.

“I’m all texted out,” she told the news site, her hands wrapped in bandages from the operation.

While BlackBerry thumb surgery might be a little different from cell phone elbow – the former results in inflamed thumb tendons from texting, while the latter results in forearm pain and the loss of fine-motor skills in your hands from holding a phone to your head – the end game to each condition is equal parts depressing.

By most accounts, the tales of cell phone elbow did little to turn the world off using their handhelds with rabid frequency. But that’s peanuts to what our recovering Philadelphia friend plans to do once she’s able to use a phone again.

In lieu of scaling back her texting habits, the mortgage banker will instead opt for the “hunt and peck” method – using her two index fingers where she did her thumbs before – and continue to text for 12 hours a day.

Please leave your “This is what Ray Bradbury was talking about!” sentiments in the comments below.

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...