Here's The Truth About Texting Thumb

Most of us are unaware of how much time we actually spend on our phones. If you really count the minutes, it's likely more than you realized. In the early spring of last year, it was reported that the average user spent 4.3 hours a day on their mobile device (via Forbes). That's a lot of screen time! But who knew that taking a selfie, scanning social media, or sending a text could be so potentially harmful to our hands? More specifically, to the muscles and tendons inside of them. If you haven't heard of "texting thumb" before, then let us tell you. It's a real condition that can become quite painful.

Texting thumb, also referred to as Nintendo thumb (sorry gamers, you're also susceptible to this condition) happens when specific hand movements are overworked. Dr. Korsh Jafarnia, orthopedic surgeon at Houston Methodist explains. "Texting thumb occurs when repetitive hand movements cause inflammation in the tendons of the thumb," he says. Adding, "These inflamed tendons then rub against the narrow tunnel in which they sit, causing thumb pain" (via Houston Methodist).

Many are unaware of smartphone injury risks

Now we know this may be hard to believe, especially if you are one who is glued to your smartphone and has yet to experience any symptoms. But the truth is, it can happen to anyone. Dr. Renee Enriquez, rehabilitation specialist at UT Southwestern Medical Center, believes it is because many are unaware of the risk of injury. "In my own practice and via discussions with other musculoskeletal providers, patients, young and mature, are unaware of the risk of injury from their smartphones," she says (via Healthline).

How do you know if you have a texting thumb? It might be time to make an appointment with a health care specialist if you are feeling an unexplained pain while moving your hand. "The pain from texting thumb is primarily present when the wrist is flexed or turned — as well as when forming a fist or grabbing," says Dr. Jafarnia. In addition, "There can also be pain when direct pressure is applied to the area" (via Houston Methodist).

If you have started experiencing signs of texting thumb, James A. Riley, certified hand therapist and director of Rehab Services at Motus Rehabilitation, recommends to take frequent breaks while gaming or texting, as well as icing your hand or running it under cold water to relieve the pain (via Healthline). Perhaps it's time we start looking out for our hands so we're still able to give a thumbs up in reality, instead of just pressing the virtual one.