People who text often, and use their thumbs to do so, may need to find a new method to communicate (or go back to that old classic known as talking). That’s because when you are a heavy texter, sexter, Tinder swiper or emoji poet, tendons in the hand can become more thick, leading to tendinitis, found a recent study in the American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.
Researchers determined texting’s link to tendon inflammation after monitoring 149 Turkish texters between the ages of 18 and 40. The study uncovered, using ultrasound imaging, that tendon thickness was more pronounced on the dominant side of frequent texters. In the trial, frequent texting was defined as sending an average of 1,200 text messages per month (wow), which is way more than the average 50 texts sent per month by casual texters.
How is texting linked to Tendinitis?
When you’re getting into some digital heavy petting using your thumbs, you are constantly using the joint near the tip of the thumb called your interphalangeal joint, which is what can lead to pain and tendinitis over time. Tendinitis is inflammation of the tendons, which are cords that attach bone to muscle. Tendinitis is considered an overuse injury and linked to repetitive motion—in the case of sending texts (dirty, flirty and work-related), it appears many are really working those thumbs. (You go, girls!)
So, you’re probably asking, ‘what if I use both of my thumbs?’ Well, even when texters used two thumbs, most people put more stress on the thumb in their dominant hand. Repetitive stress movements are the most common culprit of tendon injuries, though overuse injuries of the smaller tendons, such as those in the hand, tend to get way less attention compared to similar injuries in larger joints, like the shoulder. When was the last time you were offered a thumb massage? Probably never.
How to Prevent Texting Tendonitis
Physical therapist Mitchell Yass, DPT (author, Overpower Pain), recommends strengthening the opposing muscles on the back of the hand by bringing fingers together as if grabbing a piece of paper between them and forming an oval between thumb and finger. Then wrap a rubber band around the knuckle, thumb and fingers and open your hand to stretch the rubber band. Try 10 sets of this two to three times a week.
These cute thumb exercises are recommended by the Ergonomic Times:
1. Pull each thumb firmly with the other hand; repeat five times.
2. Massage the web of each thumb, as well as the back and front of each forearm for two minutes; repeat one to two times daily. (When massaging, if you identify sore spots, press on each and rub in a circular motion for 30 seconds. That special someone you’ve been texting so much? Drop a hint and make it a two-person job!)
3. Raise both arms high in the air and gently shake your hands; then, lower the arms low and gently shake; repeat two to three times.
Other texting tips include: Limiting texting sessions to just a few minutes, and using fingers in addition to thumbs when typing to send text messages. If you experience irritation and inflammation, use ice to reduce swelling and contact your physician for further advice.