A condition which doctors used to find only in factory workers is now becoming more widespread. The pain which comes from the repetitive movements of texting has been codenamed as “smartphone thumb” by doctors. Now, according to doctors, the same pain is getting even more common among people.

Phone is a huge part of my life: Seehusen

The pain is actually tendinitis, which happens when the tendon that bends and flexes the thumb becomes inflamed. According to doctors at the Mayo Clinic, more and more people are now complaining about this type of pain in their thumb each year. Recently, in an interview to CBS Minnesota, Scott Seehusen said that his phone is an important part of his life. Mr. Seehusen sat alone with his smartphone at a picnic table by Lake Calhoun, in Minneapolis and said that he does everything from texting to emails to social media through his smartphone.

While explaining what might be happening inside the hand to cause “smartphone thumb,” Dr. Kristin Zhao – a biomedical engineer at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota – said “One of the hypotheses is that the joints get loose and lax, and because of that, the bones kind of move differently than they would in a normal situation.”

For the past seven years, Zhao and her team of colleagues have been studying “smartphone thumb.” The movements we require our thumbs to make as we hold our phones are awkward, said Zhao. She further said, “It’s also a movement that requires some force through the thumbs. So when you press on your phone, you know, you’re interacting with your phone. It’s not just free movement in space.”

In 2010, the researchers of Mayo Clinic started using a dynamic imaging technique in order to watch the bones of a healthy patient move so that they could document what is not normal and compare it with what is normal.

How to prevent the problems?

Zhao said, “Our hypothesis is that abnormal motion of bones in the thumb could be causing pain onset and eventual osteoarthritis.” When asked if too much texting on smartphone could cause more cases of arthritis in the thumb, Zhao said “maybe.” She added, “There is a high incidence of osteoarthritis in the thumb, and we just want to make sure we aren’t encouraging that onset by our daily activities.” Another important concern of the researchers was the impact of texting on smart device to children.

Zhao said, “We really don’t understand why adults get pain, and so children, if you start earlier, you may get pain younger.” As for how to prevent these problems, the doctors advise you to give your thumb some rest and use your voice to dictate a message or just use your forefinger to tap the screen. Performing daily stretching exercises with your fingers and wrists can also help in preventing the problems and keep the tendons limber.