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What Is Texting Thumb and How Do You Treat It

Texting Thumb Hurts, and It’s Your Valid Excuse to Finally Unplug

Close up of young woman having coffee and reading news on mobile phone in the early morning before work
The hundreds of blue light glasses and tech neck creams on the market have probably clued you in: technology can do some damage to our bodies. And sadly, your thumbs aren't immune to the issue, either.

Yes, "texting thumb" is an actual injury.

According to Arnold-Peter C. Weiss, M.D. fellowship-trained hand surgeon, orthopedic hand surgeon, and professor of orthopedics, texting thumb can be defined as an "irritation of the flexor tendons of the thumb that move the joints from too much texting with one's thumb."

So, what are the symptoms of this tech-induced ailment?

Dr. John Gallucci, Jr., MS, ATC, PT, DPT, and the CEO of JAG-One Physical Therapy, said he commonly sees this issue in his practice, and it usually manifests as pain in the thumb that runs up the wrist and forearm.

"Pain is typically noticed during flexion of the wrist, or when making a fist or grabbing something," he explained.

The good news? The fix is relatively simple and straightforward. Dr. Weiss said you'll want to rest your thumb, and that anti-inflammatory medications and some ice can help.

Dr. Gallucci also recommended slowing down the pace at which one texts, utilizing another finger, or simply making a phone call when texts become lengthy. If physical therapy is required, Dr. Gallucci explained that a professional might recommend an at-home stretching, strengthening, or proper mechanics program.

There is the potential, however, that texting thumb can trigger other issues, namely trigger thumb and thumb CMS arthritis. Dr. Weiss said that thumb CMS arthritis "causes pain with power pinching such as opening a jar or turning a key to open a door," while trigger thumb "involves a clicking of the thumb with motion" and is treated with a steroid injection or surgery.

If you are experiencing pain, reach out to a doctor. And as a preventative measure, it's never a bad idea to unplug and take a texting time out.

Image Source: Getty Images / d3sign
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