Virgin Mobile Surveys the Pain of SMS

The popularity of text messaging via cell phones and other mobile devices has a definite downside: a sharp (ow!) increase in reported cases of repetitive stress injury.

A new survey conducted for the U.K.’s Virgin Mobile finds that, compared to five years ago, 38 percent more people complain of injuries from sore wrists and thumbs due to SMS text messaging. Currently, a total of 3.8 million British mobile users now claim to suffer from text-related injuries.

The survey also found that over 12 percent of the survey respondents send up to 20 text messages per day, and 10 percent confessed to sending up to 100 text messages every day.

The phenomena may even have coined a new term: Text Message Injury,/cite> or TMI. “Chiropractors recognise that text messaging regularly, over a long periods of time, could cause repetitive strain which may cause both short and long term injuries,” said Dr. Matthew Bennett, spokesperson for the British Chiropractic Association (BCA). “With text messaging on the increase, it is set to remain a popular form of communication for a long time to come. With this increased stress on our fingers and thumbs, Text Message Injury is likely to become more commonplace, unless users take precautions.”

The survey found that U.K. mobile users send more than 93.5 million text messages a day, with 2006 loking to be a banner year for text messages with a total of more than 36.5 billion messages. (That’s more than 3 billion messages a month in the U.K. alone.)

February 21 is national Text Message Injury day in the U.K.: according to Virgin, street teams are combing train and tube stations distributing tchotckes to help avoid TMI and other text-related injuries (like, maybe, walking into a pole or stumbling over someone’s bag). Heavy text users are also encouraged to check out for tips and advice on how to best preserve their digits.