We all would agree that over the past few years, smartphones have become our best buddies. A friend we can rely upon for all our life activities. But have you ever given it a thought that at the same time, how inimical they are to our thumbs? Okay, let me elaborate a bit on this fact. Let’s list out some of the things we use our smartphones for these days:
- Organizing our routine
- Staying connected to the world
- General awareness and news
- Taking notes
- Business purposes
- Reading…. And much more…
Looks like a long list, isn’t it? Isn’t it too much of work for our small little thumb!? But the sad part is, even if we know this fact, we really can’t do without our smartphones today. Smartphones have become an integral part of our system. They have become more important than any other thing, technically.
For anything that WE do on the smartphones, the THUMB has to go through all the tapping and scrolling. This overuse often leads to pain, cramping, swelling, “catching” or “snapping” and movement restriction of the thumb. These symptoms are often, collectively caused by Thumb Tendonitis, or as termed in today’s world, “Texting Thumb”.
What is it?
Thumb tendonitis or texting thumb is basically a condition where the tendons of the thumb get inflamed from an overuse injury. One of the biggest reason is the larger sizes of the smartphones these days which makes it difficult for the thumb to reach the other end of the keypads. Not only the thumb, but even the wrist may get affected by the heavy weights of the smartphones.
Per Dr. Meredith Osterman of The Philadelphia Hand Center’s conversation with TODAY, there has been a significant rise in the number of people with hand and thumb pain, majorly due to this constant clutching and pecking of smartphones. Lynnette Khoo-Summers, a physical therapist and associate professor at the Washington University School of Medicine indicates a possibility of arthritis in later stages.
What to do?
- The best Mantra is to avoid overuse as much as possible. It is good to put the phone down for a few hours on a regular basis.
- Use the “text-to-speech” feature on the phones to avoid typing
- Try placing the phone on a stable surface, like a table, and then do the typing
- Use both hands for cradling the phone
- Switch hands frequently, giving the other hand some rest
- Use ice in case of inflammation or severe pain
- Stretch the thumb, wrist, and forearm tendons and muscles anatomically once in a while
Smartphones are now coming with technological advancements that will significantly ease out the undue stress on the thumb tendons. The latest iOS 11 has “ONE-HANDED KEYBOARD” that prevents the thumb from overstretching to type. Some of the phones do offer use of the stylus which is another good answer to this problem.
If these options do not help with pain, consider talking to your physician or your physical therapist.
It’s good to make use of technology to the max, but your health is in your hands. Give your hands some rest.