Smartphone Thumb: Thumbs-down to Texting


What may sound like a made-up condition is actually an ailment that could potentially cause more harm to bodies than we know. Smartphone thumb sounds like something parents tell their teens about to keep them off their cellphones and go outside, but the truth is, it’s real. And, the effects of this condition are becoming more prevalent for the younger generation, as the use of smartphones grows.

We’ve seen problems similar to this before with ‘text neck,’ and ‘cellphone elbow,’ but what’s scary about smartphone thumb is that is can affect more areas than just the thumb.

What is Smartphone Thumb?

Smartphone thumb is considered to be a repetitive strain injury (RSI). These injuries usually occur in the upper body and are the result of overuse of an area of the body in everyday, repetitive motions. Smartphone thumb is an excellent example of an RSI, as cellphone users are typically on their phones for multiple hours of the day.

With texting thumb, tiny tears are being created in the muscles and tendons in the thumbs, fingers, and other areas in the wrist and forearm. The inflammation in these areas can cause damage and increased pain in the thumbs and hands that require physical therapy and in more extreme cases, surgery.

How to Stop Smartphone Thumb

Although texting thumb can be a result of constant typing on a keyboard, video games, or handheld games, the obvious cause of smartphone thumb is texting. So, stop texting and try meeting up with friends in person. It is difficult to give up something that is such an integral part of your day, but try to set a few hours of the day aside to read a book are talk to someone on the phone. Symptoms of smartphone thumb include:

  • Twitching
  • Sharp Pain in hand/finger joints
  • Stiffness
  • Numbness
  • Inflammation

Occupational Therapy for Smartphone Thumb

Finding an occupational therapist may be beneficial in relieving the pain accompanying the constant need to text. These therapists can fit you and provide braces or wraps that can help bind the hand muscles for different types of therapy depending on the severity of texting thumb symptoms. There are also many exercises occupational therapists can help you with to improve thumb and finger strength and lessen the effects of smartphone thumb. They include:

  • Tapping each finger with the thumb
  • Pulling each thumb back with the opposite hand and holding
  • Using rubber band around the thumb and fingers to provide resistance training
  • Massaging the webbing between the thumb and forefinger
  • Massaging the wrist and forearm
  • Icing the areas in pain

Texting is such a prevalent part of everyday life; it can be extremely difficult to give up, even for a few hours a day. And while it may not seem like a huge deal now, in a few years, you may notice your hands aren’t as strong as they once were. So, if you notice symptoms of smartphone thumb, try unplugging for a few hours a day, and give your hands a break.

Author: Allied Travel Careers

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