Do you have texting thumb?

thumbs upAmericans love their technology so much that they frequently use it. We’re always on our phones, tablets or computers.

On average, in the United States, a person sends over 40 emails per day and spends a whopping 24 hours per week texting. As far as gaming is concerned, the average person of age 13 or older plays video games around 6.5 hours per week.

All this texting can have unexpected consequences…

As a result of all of this technology usage, your hands, fingers, arms and elbows are put under strain because you are giving them a workout. Just like with actual athletic activities, making these repeated movements of the hands and fingers in particular, put you at a greater risk of injury or can aggravate already existing conditions.

There has been minimal research done on the connection between repetitive stress injuries and the devices we use in our everyday lives. However, wrist and elbow surgeon Robert Wysocki, MD states that patients are more likely to notice worsened or additional joint or tendon problems occurring when they repeatedly use their smartphone or computer. Luckily, many of those problems can be treated.

What is texting thumb?

Wysocki stated that the condition referred to as “texting thumb” is not a clearly defined condition. However, he says that it normally “refers to one of two things.”
First, a condition called trigger thumb can occur and results in the thumb’s flexor tendon being constricted. Generally, this happens because a person uses repetitive gripping motions while grabbing their smartphone or texting. Symptoms include pain, a popping or snapping sound when bending and straightening the thumb and occasionally experiencing the thumb locking in a curled manner.

Can texting thumb be treated?

Fortunately, there are good treatments that can ensure that texting thumb doesn’t become a permanent condition. Wysocki and his colleagues use cortisone injections on patients with trigger thumb, a treatment that has restored normal mobility in 80 to 85 percent of cases. For those with more severe problems, surgery may be necessary to loosen the constriction at the base of the thumb to allow the tendon to move normally.

Wysocki recommends to patients who have pain or stiffness in their thumb with constant smartphone use to change the way they use their phone. He suggests holding the device with the hand that uses it less frequently or to type with the index finger to reduce the risk of strain on the thumb.

If you are suffering from texting thumb, contact our office today. Our board certified hand surgeons are highly experienced in treating chronic hand, finger and thumb pain, and can help you find an effective treatment option.

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