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Google: Why does my thumb hurt?

Advanced technology such as smartphones are thought to add nothing more than convenience to our everyday lives. Right? Well, not exactly!

 With apps for texting, selfies, Facebook, snapchat, daily reminders, banking, emails, dating, news, fitness, weather, and lets not forget shopping and gaming, it’s no wonder we have become more and more dependent, in reality addicted, to our smartphones. The ease of access to these wonderful life conveniences at our fingertips should come with a warning sign, however.

 Sit back and think about how many times your thumb flexes and extends during one text conversation. Now imagine doing over 100 repetitions of squats every 5 minutes! Get the picture?

 The musculoskeletal system of the thumb, along with the rest of the intrinsic muscles of the hand, wrist and forearm undergo a complex series of motions each time our thumb clicks or swipes across the screen. This prolonged repetitive motion along with poorly designed ergonomics of smartphones can lead to Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI) of the thumb. RSI of the thumb can lead to inflammation of the tendons and joints, which may present with swelling, tenderness, pain and decreased range of motion.

 If you are experiencing pain at the base of your thumb while and you are a hooked on your smartphone, your body might be telling you to watch out. So, don’t let your convenient smartphone exist to destroy your hand. Although you can treat the inflammation with ice, the best remedy is prevention. Give your thumb muscles a break during the day by switching to voice-to-text function, skype, facetime or even a good-old traditional phone call instead of texting. Better yet, just put the phone down for longer periods of break time during the day. Stretching the wrist and forearms while opening and closing your hands can be used as a preventative measure as well.



Dr. Niki Varveris, PT, DPT, MSPT, MBA, CKTP

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