"Smartphone thumb" isn't a recognized medical condition but inflammatory tendinitis is. Mayo clinic researchers are studying the activity using dynamic-imaging techniques to watch how texter's bones move.
"One of the hypotheses is that the joints get loose and lax, and because of that, the bones move differently than they would in a normal situation," says Mayo biomedical engineer Kristin Zhao, PhD.
Gripping a cell phone can constrict flexor tendons, and excess smartphone usage may result in pain on the outside of the thumb near the wrist, reduced grip strength, or limited range of motion. These abnormal motions can lead to tendinitis - and potentially osteoarthritis.
To prevent the problem, reduce your repetitive thumb-stress by:
1. Using your phone's voice-recognition feature to send texts
2. Switching the hand you use to hold your phone
3. Incorporating other fingers into your typing method.
To help alleviate hand and thumb pain:
- Tap each finger to your thumb five times on each hand. You can sing a song while doing it so you can repeat it for 3 sets.
- Lengthening your thumb is very helpful. Pull on it – gently of course. While pulling, give it a light wiggle.
- Massage your thumb web. Give the muscles around your thumb a quick massage.
- Gently stretch your thumb back towards your forearm for 10 seconds. This position is more intense if you straighten your arm out in front of you.
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