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Hum Factors. 2014 Aug;56(5):864-72.

Serum and MRI biomarkers in mobile device texting: a pilot study.



We aimed to determine if serum biochemical and MRI biomarkers differed between high volume (> or =230 texts sent/day; n = 5) and low volume (< or =25 texts sent/day; n = 5) texters. A secondary aim was to ascertain what correlations between the biochemical and imaging biomarkers could tell us about the pathophysiology of early onset tendinopathies.


Text messaging has become widespread, particularly among college-aged young adults. There is concern that high rates of texting may result in musculoskeletal disorders, including tendinopathies. Pathophysiology of tendinopathies is largely unknown.


Ten females with a mean age of 20 were recruited. We examined serum for 20 biomarkers of inflammation, tissue degeneration, and repair. We used conventional MRI and MRI mean intratendinous signal intensity (MISI) to assess thumb tendons. Correlations between MISI and serum biomarkers were also examined.


Three high volume texters had MRI tendinopathy findings as did one low volume texter. Increased serum TNF-RI was found in high volume texters compared to low volume texters, as were nonsignificant increases in MISI in two thumb tendons. Serum TNF-RI and TNF-alpha correlated with MISI in these tendons, as did ILI-RI.


These results suggest that early onset tendinopathy with concurrent inflammation may be occurring in prolific texters. Further studies with larger sample sizes are needed for confirmation. Application: High volume texting may be a risk factor for thumb tendinopathy in later years. Multidisciplinary research using biochemical and imaging biomarkers may be used to gain insight into pathophysiological processes in musculoskeletal disorders.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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