Thumb pain is on the rise.
As we spend more time on our mobile phones and other tablet devices, we increase the chance of injury to our thumbs, by repetitively using them to type and scroll. “Text thumb” is a modern day problem but the cause behind it is simply over-use resulting in repetitive strain injury (RSI).
With text thumb, the fine repetitive movements needed to type and scroll on a mobile cause tiny tears in the muscles and tendons. This comes about when these movements are repeated regularly and often. Little by little, day by day, a cumulative effect occurs as the tiny tears build up. As a result the body’s natural inflammation process kicks in and thumb pain occurs. In my own experience, some patients complain of pain at the base of their thumb and others find the distal (final) thumb joint is more painful. The inflammation of the muscles and tendons can also press on the surrounding nerves due to the swelling. Collectively you may experience all or just one or two of these problems: thumb pain, stiffness and sometimes twitching, numbness and hypersensitivity to touch.
What can I do about it?
The damage in text thumb is usually not permanent. With time inflammation will usually subside, symptoms like thumb pain resolve and eventually normal flexibility will return. Physical therapy such as is offered at Natural Back Health can help to speed up the recovery of the injury. Rehabilitation exercises to strengthen and condition the thumb are given to prevent re-occurrence.
Everyday use tips also help on the road to recovery:
Use voice messaging feature on your phone apps to give your fingers a break from typing
Text with your non-dominant hand.
Pace yourself and try to control the speed at which you text. Fast texting is more a matter of habit than need.
This tips can help reduce the strain and also give the injured thumb a chance to rest.
If you are trying to prevent any issues arising, some regular exercises for your wrists and hands could be of benefit. Have a look at this short video on a useful exercise for your hands and wrists.
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Finally, the information provided here is not intended to replace individual medical advice.