Smartphone Thumb

According to Grace Walker, PT, DPT, OTD, using your smartphone too much can be a source of pain in your thumbs, wrists, forearms, and even your neck! Physical therapy may be necessary to treat the pain.

We live in a world of information and technology. People of all  ages and backgrounds are clicking away on their smartphones or tablets. These technologies are very useful in helping us manage a calendar, surf the web, check email, text, tweet, blog, and much more. However useful they may be, there may be some consequences on your body.

Most people work on their smartphones with their thumbs (not using their fingers at all) and in a position that’s not natural for the thumb and wrist joints. Therefore, after hours of improper positioning of the hand and wrist, it is not uncommon to feel aches and pains throughout the thumb region, with possible extensions into the wrist, forearms, and even your
neck. As a result, injuries such as “Blackberry thumb”, carpal tunnel syndrome, or elbow pain can occur. In addition, looking down for a prolonged period of time can lead to neck pain (check out our blog covering text neck!).

How can Smartphones lead to overuse injuries?screen-18870_640

The intention of spending 5 minutes checking your email on your smartphone can easily turn into an hour browsing the web on the phone for some individuals. Your thumb, wrist, and neck have been held in the same unnatural position the entire time. Before long, your thumbs have been typing in an awkward position and they start hurting. Your wrists have been bent over and tendinitis can set in. Your neck aches from looking down at your smartphone for a long time.

The key here: Listen to your body! If there’s any pain, STOP what you’re doing and rest!

If you’ve already started to feel the effects of excessive smartphone use, call your therapist today. At Walker Physical Therapy & Pain Center, we have excellent Be Free From Pain Programs to help relieve the pain your busy life and smart phone have caused. We also have solutions that will provide
you with the knowledge to avoid smartphone pain again!

The Aches and Pains of the Smartphone…

If you spend a lot of time on your smartphone, you should be aware of the signs of overuse.

  • In the early stages, expect general aches and pains.
  • Tightness in the muscles within and surrounding the joint
    (thumb, wrist, or neck) slowly worsen over time.
  • If not addressed, pain continues to persist and is more
    constant throughout the day.

So, what do you do to prevent any short-term or long-term injury?

  • The number one solution is REST! Rest your thumbs (after all it’s the fingers that are meant to do the typing, not your thumbs).
  • Take frequent breaks while doing a lot of texting or emailing. Your body cannot heal if it is constantly subject to the same activity. So be sure to stretch your hands and wrists frequently.
  • Give your neck a rest by looking up and bending sideways, stretching every 5-10 minutes. Ask your therapist what the best stretches are for your hands, wrists, and neck.

Our team of experts at Walker Physical Therapy & Pain Center can assess your posture and ergonomics and provide you with excellent exercises as well as a demonstration of how you should use your smartphone without causing pain and injury.

Preventing The Woes Of The Smartphone

If you find yourself suffering from the aches and strains after prolonged use of your smartphone, our qualified team of experts can help to alleviate some of the related discomfort. In addition to pain relief, we can also teach you the best way to position your thumbs, hands, wrists, and neck to prevent further Smartphone-_svginjury.

Word of Caution:

Prevention is the best medicine. Here are some tips from our team:

  • Take frequent breaks – rest after every 10-15 minutes. Periodically look up, giving your neck a break from looking down
  • Hold your smartphone a little higher to decrease the amount of stress on the neck (so you don’t have to look down as much)
  • Write fewer and shorter messages. (This may seem impossible but it will help you.)
  • Try to keep your wrists straight when holding your smartphone from both sides
  • Alternate typing between fingers to give your thumbs a  break
  • Make sure that you keep your hands, wrists and arms at the proper angles to prevent other injuries from developing.

Don’t hesitate to call or visit our office before your hands, wrists and neck suffer any further. By now, you probably know that a little human care and intervention from our team is exactly what you need in a increasingly technology-driven society.

Walker Physical Therapy & Pain Center

1111 W. Town & Country Rd. Ste. 1

Orange, Orange County, CA 92868