Texting Thumb??? Are you Serious?

texting thumb pain

“Ok, I’ll text you!” How many times do you find yourself using that line? The average person spends around 23 hours a week texting – more if you are a Millennial or younger. Sure, texting allows you to stay “in touch” but if you overdo it, you can develop, “Texting Thumb”.

“’Texting Thumb’ is not a clearly defined condition, according to Dr. Robert Wysocki at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, “but sometimes it can be ‘Trigger Thumb’”.

Trigger Thumb, the constriction of a flexor tendon in the thumb, may result from repetitive pinching motions such as texting. Its symptoms include painful popping or snapping when the thumb bends and straightens; sometimes the thumb even becomes locked in a curled position.

For patients with trigger thumb, Wysocki and his colleagues most commonly use cortisone injections, which eliminate pain and restore full mobility 80 to 85 percent of the time. In more severe cases, a brief surgical procedure may be required to release the pulley at the base of the thumb so that the tendon can move more easily.

You can prevent Trigger Thumb with a change in technique. Wysocki recommends changing the way you use your device. For example, hold your phone with the hand you use less frequently or type messages with your index finger.

You can also prevent trigger thumb by regular stretching. Try this:

  1. Start with your right hand open, with the fingers spread wide.
  2. Take the index finger and thumb of your left hand and grab ahold of the right thumb.
  3. Gently pull your right thumb away from your right palm until you feel a stretch. Hold for 15 seconds, then release and rest until the sensation goes away. Repeat one more time on the right hand, then switch for two sets on the left hand.

Keeping in touch does not have to be painful, and it doesn’t have to cause you bodily damage. If you do develop thumb pain, try to vary your technique and stretch to relieve pain. But, if pain and/or dysfunction persists, schedule a free injury assessment with a physical or occupational therapist or look for a board certified hand surgeon to discuss your options.

About the Author: Vic Zuccarello, OTR/L, CEAS II, ACDA, is an occupational therapist and work evaluator with over 30 years of experience. Along with multiple certifications in work evaluation, ergonomics, and employment testing, Vic enjoys discussing and identifying solutions for everyday problems. He’s inquisitive and always willing to challenge the status quo in rehabilitation and medicine.