Doctors warn too much texting may lead to 'smartphone thumb'


People who spend too much time texting may be at increased risk of having "smartphone thumb", a painful condition caused by repetitive movements of typing that may lead to arthritis in the thumb, doctors have warned.

Formally known as tendinitis, the condition was earlier only seen in factory workers. It causes the tendon that bends and flexes the thumb to become inflamed.

But with increased use of smartphone for our daily activities, this type of pain has become more common over the years in the US, according to a report.

"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," Kristin Zhao, a biomedical engineer at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester was quoted as saying by CBS Minnesota.

The movements we require our thumbs to make as we hold our phones are awkward, Zhao said.

"It's also a movement that requires some force through the thumbs. It's not just free movement in space," she explained.

Researchers began using a dynamic imaging technique in 2010 to watch the bones of a healthy patient move so they could document what is normal and compare it with what is not. "Our hypothesis is that the abnormal motion of bones in the thumb could be causing pain onset and eventual osteoarthritis," Zhao said.

The ways to prevent the problem include giving your thumbs a break, using your forefinger sometimes, and doing daily stretching exercises to keep your tendons limber, among others.

Some other ways to prevent a smartphone thumb would be to sync one's phone with a tablet and use all your fingers to type, or go for voice-to-text features on one's phone. One can also use a stylus instead of fingers. Switching hands and not putting pressure on any one hand would help relieve the pain.


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