Texting or smartphone thumb is an injury that affects both your thumb and wrist. From texting to games and apps, your thumbs do a lot of work when you use your phone. The repetitive motion that you find your thumb doing while you are on your smartphone isn’t natural for this joint and it can lead to an injury in the tendons running along the thumb side of your wrist.
If you’re starting to feel pain at the base of your thumbs and in your wrists, or are experiencing any inflammation or stiffness, these joints are probably working overtime. Follow these five tips to help alleviate this discomfort and avoid smartphone thumb.
Try to take a break from texting for hours or using your phone continuously. Where possible, opt for sending shorter messages, and pick up the phone to have longer conversations. While it may not always be realistic to take a full break from your phone, the more conscious you can be of decreasing smartphone screen time the more positive benefits there will be for your thumbs and wrists.
The general position we hold our phones in — holding it in both hands and using your thumbs as your primary typing digit — is the worst position to use your phone in and places a great deal of strain on your thumbs and wrist. Instead try placing your phone flat on a table and using it more like a keyboard, or swapping out texting with your thumbs for your forefingers. Any position where the phone is at rest and doesn’t require the support of your wrist and thumbs to keep it upright and stable will be less irritating.
Our smartphones truly are quite smart, and are packed with features to help decrease the load on your thumb and wrist joints. The speech to text feature that is found on smartphones is a great option to alleviate typing your text messages or notes. For android users, the swype keyboard is also easier on your thumb and wrist joints since it has a gliding motion rather than the repetitive tapping you find with a traditional smartphone keyboard. Another way to use your keyboard features to your advantage is autocorrect and autofill. Using the autofill feature on your smartphone will decrease the number of tapping actions you have to make.
Stretching is great to keep any part of your body healthy, including your wrist and thumbs. Performing stretching exercises will help keep your tendons limber and your muscles strong. A simple stretch you can incorporate into a daily routine is to put your thumb inside your fist and apply pressure until you feel a stretch. If you find you can go further, bend at the wrist and move your fist down and away from the thumb side of your wrist; you should feel a stretch along the inside portion of your wrist.
While stretching can be beneficial you also want to make sure you don’t go overboard and give your muscles and tendons time to recover.
Applying ice to the tender area will help to reduce swelling and stiffness. When icing, apply for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Avoid applying the ice directly to your skin and use an ice pack, or wrap the ice in a plastic bag surrounded by a towel or cloth.
An increase use in technology has brought with it some unique physical challenges like smartphone thumb. Smartphone thumb is a very real issue and needs to be treated with care. Mild cases of smartphone thumb can respond well to anti inflammatory treatments and rest, while more severe cases may need steroid injections or surgery.
If you find yourself suffering from pain at the base of the thumb, weakness in grip, swelling, locking and popping of the tendon, or stiffness call us today at 561-967-6500 to assess your injuries and set up a treatment plan that will work for you.