Nowadays, everyone owns a smartphone. According to the latest data, more than 50% of the world’s population owns a smartphone with the latest technology. A smartphone is a crucial part of our modern lifestyle. It has made communication easy, the internet available, e-mails readily accessible, and a source of entertainment. We can hardly imagine our lives without access to these friendly gadgets.
Regardless of its countless benefits, excessive smartphone use is dangerous for our physical, emotional, psychological, and cognitive health. Texting thumb syndrome is one of the side effects of excessive usage of smartphones. If you feel pain or discomfort in the thumb, this can be due to texting thumb syndrome.
What is the texting thumb syndrome?
Because of typing and scrolling on the screen, our thumb performs numerous unwanted repetitive movements, which result in inflammation in the thumb’s tendons. Our thumb is not designed to do these complicated movements. The continuous overuse leads to rubbing between these inflamed tendons against the surrounding tunnel, causing pain and swelling in the thumb.
According to numerous studies, heavy smartphone users have constant mild pain and discomfort in their thumb and wrist.
What are the symptoms of the texting thumb syndrome?
With the continuous movement of the thumb and inflammation of the thumb’s tendons, a person with texting thumb syndrome may experience the following symptoms:
- Stiffness and pain at the base of the thumb, which can gradually extend to the wrist and the arm
- Difficulty in moving thumb, which worsens when you grip on something or make a fist.
- Numbness in the affected thumb
- Throbbing pain in your whole thumb
- Sometimes, you can feel cramps in the fleshy area between the thumb and index finger (the thenar eminence)
- A clicking or popping sound comes when you move your thumb
How can we diagnose the texting thumb syndrome?
To determine if you have an overuse thumb injury, a healthcare provider asks thoroughly about your symptoms, how much time you spend on your phone, and perform a physical examination of your thumb and wrist.
The healthcare providers also examine the strength, signs of nerve damage, or sensation check on the affected area.
What is the treatment approach for texting thumb syndrome?
The main goal of any treatment approach for texting thumb syndrome is to relieve pain and reduce thumb inflammation. Your doctor can suggest the following treatment modalities:
- Rest: Like in other inflammatory conditions, rest is crucial in texting thumb syndrome. If you continue using your thumb even after symptoms, the inflammation worsens and may cause damage to the thumb tendons. Therefore, limit using your thumb for some time.
- Cold compress: Place an ice pack on the base of your thumb and wrist for at least 15 minutes every 4-6 hours to reduce inflammation and ease the thumb pain.
- Medications: The doctors may recommend over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for pain. In severe cases, the doctor can suggest steroidal injections into the tendon sheath at the base of the thumb.
- Hand support: Your doctor may suggest wearing a hand brace to support the thumb and wrist.
How can we prevent texting thumb syndrome?
We can avoid getting texting thumb by following some easy-to-adopt changes in our lifestyle:
- Better forearm posture: Always try to support your forearm while using a phone, tabs, or other scrolling devices.
- Avoiding using thumb the entire time: We have a habit of holding and using the phone with one hand, only making our thumb susceptible. Try to hold your smartphone with one hand and use your fingers on the other hand for texting or scrolling.
- Avoid texting too much: Abbreviations and features like predictive text can reduce the stress on your thumb. You can record a message or try to make a phone call whenever it is possible.
- A decrease in texting speed also prevents unnecessary trauma to the thumb.
- Tracking and moderating your phone users may also be beneficial.
- Give your thumb a rest whenever you feel any pain or discomfort.
- Stretching exercises: the following are the few stretching workouts that can improve flexibility and reduce the chances of further damage.
- With the help of the other hand’s index finger, stretch your affected thumb backwards gently and hold the position for at least five seconds relieving stiffness and pain in the thumb.
- Thumb stretching with the help of an elastic band placed between the thumb and fingers increases the flexibility of the thumb.
- Moving the thumb to the back of the fingers and as far as possible from the fingers relieve thumb pain and stiffness.
With these little modifications in your daily routine and exercises, you can relieve the pain and stiffness in your thumb.