This condition is not an official medical diagnosis just yet, but give it time. Text claw is also sometimes referred to as texters thumb, and anyone who uses their smartphone a lot knows the kind of workout that their thumbs get. Prolonged use can lead to cramping and soreness not just in the thumbs, but in the wrist, fingers and forearms.
This is because texting is what is known as “fine motor activity,” and it can lead to muscle or tendon pain. It may not even be due to texting – any type of fine motor activity, be it peeling vegetables, rolling a cigar, or doing needlepoint, can lead to this type of discomfort.
So Why Text Claw?
We perform fine motor activities every day. The problem is that in recent years, we have added smartphone use to our daily activities, thereby increasing the level and frequency of our fine motor activities. Essentially, we are overusing our hands, fingers and thumbs, and the evolutionary process has not yet caught up to the point where we are naturally adapted to that increased use. Because we are so welded to our smartphones, we run an increased risk of inflammation in the tendons that attach the muscles and bones in our hands.
But Im Using My Thumbs – Why Do My Hands Hurt?
Everything is connected. Your thumbs might seem as though theyre doing all the work, but because of the connection to the rest of your hand, the repetitive motions cause pain throughout. Keep it up, and eventually your muscles can become scarred and fibrotic. This leads to loss of strength, reduced mobility, and pain. Your thumbs and fingers may even begin to turn inward, hence the term “text claw.”
If you are determined that you simply cant live without your smartphone for any length of time, here are five things that you can do to reduce the pain and improve flexibility.
- Apply Heat – Using a hot towel or heating pad can help to ease the pain and relax your muscles.
- Stretch – Hold your arm outward with the hand extending backward, and reach forward. This will stretch your tendons and muscles.
- Massage – As you stretch, look for tight areas. See if there are any nodules in your forearm. They will feel like little balls. Rub gently, pressing downward. This eases the tension. Make sure you dont overdo it, though, and dont press too hard on or near your thumb. This is because there is a large nerve in that area, and it can hurt if you press too hard.
- Pray – Not literally, unless you feel so inclined. But hold your hands together in a prayer-like position, and hold for several seconds. Repeat 6-8 times.
- Flex – With your palm up and your wrist turned down, pull your fingers gently toward your body. Next, turn your wrist up and press your fingers gently away from your body. Repeat 6-8 times.
Take a Break
If it is obvious that your pain is due to texting, you really should take it easy. Consider downloading a voice app so that you dont have to use your hands quite so much.