It happens to the best of us. There you are, answering long work emails in the grocery line, updating your manager on the status of a project in the cloud database, texting your best friend a big life update, and then, suddenly, your thumb is so cramped, you can barely move it. Sound familiar? If so, then you’ve fallen victim to the dreaded texting thumb.
While it may sound unique, texting thumb is yet another form of Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), just like the kind you might get from typing on a non-ergonomic keyboard. (Don’t know what an ergonomic keyboard is? Here is a good breakdown). RSIs occur when we repeat any kind of fine motor action ad nauseum throughout the day. Baristas and hairdressers, for instance, also battle a range of RSIs, from pulling espresso shots all day and clipping hair.
Texting thumb can have radiating effects throughout the body, causing pain in the elbow, wrist and forearm. It also can cause tendonitis (inflammation of the tendons) and, if not treated, it can lead to permanent scarring and loss of mobility and strength.
So, how to prevent it?
1. Um, stop texting so much. For longer messages, switch to email or just pick up the phone and call. (Sacrilege, we know!).
2. Apply heat. Doing so will relax the muscles. However, if the pain is acute, it probably means you have swelling, in which case cold is more appropriate.
3. Stretch. Extend your arm outwards and pull your fingers backward to stretch your arm, wrists and fingers.
4. Go for a massage. Working the muscles directly can help knead out painful nodules.
For a more in-depth look at this topic, we highly recommend reading, Text Claw: How to Alleviate Pain From Too Much Smartphone Use. (Note: Texting Thumb and Text Claw are interchangeable terms).
Do you suffer from texting thumb? If so, what do you to mitigate your pain? Let us know in the comments below.