Bone & joint health Student Health

Is “texting thumb” a real thing?

Could the pain, swelling and stiffness in your thumb be related to your love of texting and tweeting?

Yes, it could be.

Texting thumb is also known as ‘Gamer’s thumb’ or by its technical term “DeQuervain’s syndrome.”

There have been increased incidences of this thumb issue noted with use of smart phones and computerized hand held games. A recent study in the American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation found that increased texting led to an increased rate of issues with the thumbs, especially on the dominant side.

It occurs when two tendons on the back of the thumb and near the wrist become inflamed and the tissue starts to thicken. Over time, this gets worse and causes pain with movement and gripping. Eventually, movement and strength become limited.

So what can you do to prevent texting thumb?

  • Ice 5-10 minutes and rest after a lot of texting, emailing or gaming.
  • Use voice activated texting and emailing to rest the thumbs.
  • Alternate by using index fingers to carry out the tasks.
  • You may require a resting splint and some therapy to help reduce inflammation and increase range of motion and strength. Talk to a therapist or your health care provider.

Other health conditions can cause sore thumbs – speak to your health-care provider for a proper diagnosis.

texting thumb tips

About the author

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Sylvia Rogan

Sylvia Rogan is an occupational therapist.

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