text thumbWe use our smartphones as alarm clocks, reading devices, music players, camera, appointment trackers, and to communicate through texting or social media.  We rarely use them to make phone calls, but we could do that to!  That’s a lot of stuff to do on one small machine that fits in the palm of your hand!  With the holiday season upon us once again, new devices will soon be landing in our hands and so will new ways to use them.

What we don’t think of on a daily basis is the effect that constant device use can have on our hands.  “Texting thumb” is a term that has started to become prevalent on social media, and you may be wondering what it is.  Texting thumb is not a medical diagnosis; rather, it is a common term used to describe a repetitive stress injury, or RSI, of the thumb that you use the most on your device.

The continuous use of your thumb to swipe and tap the screen of your device can lead to soreness or pain at the base of the digit.  This soreness develops because the thumb is being used to make repetitive small motions that can cramp the muscles in the base of the thumb.

So how do you avoid texting thumb?
One way to avoid developing texting thumb is to switch the hands you use with your device.  Making an effort to switch hands every hour so that the muscles are equally used in both hands may help avoid the muscle strain.

Another way to avoid texting thumb is to simply put your device down and rest your hands.  Repetitive Stress Injuries are easily healed by avoiding the motion that causes them.  Be mindful of the amount of time you spend swiping and tapping, and be sure to take a break every day from your device.  After taking that break, stretching your hand by opening and closing it several times may help to alleviate the soreness you’re experiencing.  Another way to stretch the thumb is by using the opposing hand to flex the thumb in a downward motion in order to loosen the muscles at the base of the digit.  In some extreme cases, physical therapy may be required to stretch the small muscles of the hand back into shape.

If resting and stretching your hand doesn’t help, and you’re experiencing hand pain that doesn’t resolve after several days of avoiding small motions, contact Hampton Roads Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine.  HROSM has several hand and wrist specialists who will diagnose and treat your hand, and provide you with information on how to avoid Repetitive Stress Injuries to your thumb.

Every member of our team of specialists is uniquely qualified to diagnose and treat all of your orthopaedic needs.  Call us at (757)873-1554 to make an appointment with one of our hand specialists.  We will have you back to texting in no time!