Ancient man used the thumb to grasp, hold, pinch and grip; we now in the mobile phone age command it to text, type, browse and swipe.
Smartphone use can often mean hand (fingers, wrist and forearm) pain for people who spend hours clutching and pecking on the little screens, leading to more complaints at the offices of hand specialists. The thumb, especially, is most commonly affected.
Being glued to tech devices like smart phones can aggravate certain conditions, like tendinitis which is inflammation of the tendons, the cords that attach bone to the muscle. Tendinitis is linked to overuse and repetitive motions of the hands or fingers.
How Do We Cope With Our Sore Thumbs?
• Apply heat (or cold) to the affected area. Using heat is something anyone can do at home, whether it’s with a hot towel or a hot pad. In cases of chronic tendinitis (which has lasted more than one week), heat can help to relax the muscles, allowing for better stretching. Cold is better for acute tendinitis where the pain has been on for a week or less.
Stretch your arm out so that the hand extends backward, stretching the muscles.
This helps to stretch the tendons out further and provides a foundation for the following exercise.
Search for tightness and nodules by massage. You can deal with tightness by pressing down massage motion on any place you’re feeling pain without overdoing it the lest your muscles become sore.
Stretch on your own. Puts your hands together in a prayer-type gesture, and hold it for several seconds.
Stretch your hand back. In this stretch, you pull the fingers gently toward you while the arm is turned upside-down.
Flex your hand forward by turning the wrist down and pulling the fingers down and toward yourself.
Flex your hand backward. This stretch is similar to the last one, except this time the wrist is turned up and pull the fingers up and toward yourself.
If your pain is pretty clearly caused by smartphone use/texting, experts recommend modifying the way you use your phone so that you’re using your index finger and not your thumb to press buttons or touch the screen, like using a stylus or downloading a voice-to-text app (if you have the right voice) so you don’t have to type as much.
A brace can help to alleviate pain, but it’s important to check with a health professional first.
Any position where the phone is at rest…is going to be less irritating for your hands.
If all the above don’t work, treatment options include putting the patient in a little splint that immobilizes the area for a few weeks and rests the tendons, or injecting medicine around the tendons to break up some of the inflammation.
Rarely, some people may need surgery.
Feelings of a sharp shooting or burning pain, or numbness and tingling, it could mean a problem related to injuring a nerve, which can be harder to treat.
Bottom line: give your hands a break.
Disclaimer: The photos and descriptions above are not meant to be taken as medical advice or instruction; they are purely for informational purposes. If you are experiencing pain in your hand/wrist/arm and you suspect it could be tendinitis, carpal tunnel or another condition, you should talk to a medical professional about the best course of treatment for you.