When Technology Hurts – What is Texting Thumb?

The days of making phone calls are becoming a thing of the past.  Almost everyone is now using email and text for the majority of their communication.  And, we’re not just saying that, the research is there!

  • Studies show that the average American adult sends and receives 32 texts every day
  • Middle-school and high-school students spend an average of 95 minutes of texting every day according to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation
  • The average teen will send more than 100 text messages every single day—that’s 3,000 texts a month!

Now that’s a lot of thumb action!  And with all that texting and emailing, you could be setting yourself up for what some are now calling ‘texting thumb’.

Are you texting your way to texting thumb?

What is Texting Thumb?

Texting thumb is a repetitive stress injury that affects both your thumb and wrist.  Your thumb acts like a pair of pliers—it is very good at gripping things.  When your thumb performs other motions, like typing, it can put a lot of repetitive stress on the thumb joint, muscles and tendons attached to it.

Although it may seem silly, when your thumb travels over a keypad each day it’s a lot of work on a joint that isn’t meant to move around that much.  Some common signs and symptoms of texting thumb include:

  • Hearing a popping sound around the outside of the thumb at or near the wrist
  • A decrease in grip strength
  • A decrease in range of motion
  • Pain in the thumb, hand or wrist
  • Pain when bending or straightening the thumb

Cellular phones aren’t the only devices to blame for texting thumb—prolonged use of computers, video game controllers and handheld gaming consoles are also big contributors.

How to Avoid Texting Thumb

Here are 3 easy tips for preventing or alleviating pain from texting thumb:

  1. Stop texting so much. Try to break the habit of texting for hours on end, and limit texting to short messages.
  2. Cool it down. Icing your thumb may help to alleviate any inflammation and stiffness.
  3. Stretch and exercise. Take breaks throughout your day and stretch and shake out your wrists.  Thumb exercises may help to minimize some of the injuries.

It’s never too late to learn techniques to avoid texting thumb or other hand conditions. For more information schedule an appointment with Desert Hand Therapy today!   

Your wrists are also affected by daily repetitive motions and activities day after day.

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