A common task most of us are doing much more of than ever before is texting. This is an extremely wonderful and useful communication tool, but just like any other repetitive motion our body performs, we may be placing certain tendons at risk of overuse if our constant rapid-fire texting continues without paying attention to our extremely mobile and intricate thumbs and wrists. At A2 Physical Therapy, we strive to educate and assist our patients in being proactive regarding their overall health. If texting is something you cannot imagine having to modify or discontinue, give your thumbs and wrists a little TLC today.
The precise movements of our thumbs work the tendons of two specific muscles (abductor pollicis longus and extensor pollicis brevis) which can become irritated from repeated friction and overuse, leading to inflammation and degeneration of the tendons and their sheaths (the membrane surrounding and protecting a tendon). This puts pressure on the tunnel through which they travel. At certain angles of wrist and thumb movements, such as when we’re texting and gliding our thumbs sideways, these two tendons are at an increased risk of becoming irritated and inflamed. Patients with Texting Thumb (clinically referred to as De Quervain disease) may experience swelling, nodules, and increased pain on the thumb side of the wrist. A simple way to a test for this condition is called the Finkelstein test. Simply clasp the thumb in the palm with all four fingers and rotate downward at the wrist joint. A positive Finkelstein test is indicated when pain is experienced on the thumb side of the wrist.
Cortisone injections, surgical release, and immobilization are all options if conservative management isn’t enough. Actions we can take in physical therapy to prevent worsening of Texting Thumb symptoms include:
Activity modification, icing, and avoiding repetitive thumb and wrist movements are also indicated for anyone who experiences discomfort with the Finklestein test. For Texting Thumb, prevention and early treatment are especially important since these affected tendons can take months to heal once irritated.
So, here’s the takeaway: Put the phone down, do a few comfortable wrist and thumb stretches, and remember these delicate tendons and strong joints were designed to move, but not necessarily in a fixed position across a 2 inch screen thousands of times a day. Here are a few gentle stretches to get you started. Perform at a slow and controlled speed for 10 repetitions with a 5 second hold.
"I found A2 Physical therapy was able to give me the help I needed in the exercises and cupping they gave me to loosen up my stiff joints and muscles that I could hardly move due to surgery, stiffness, and soreness. I think A2 PT are running a top notch business. The therapists that worked with and on me were extremely courteous. Molly was so helpful in my therapy and an absolute delight to work with. She got me back to 100% in just 4 weeks and my visits were 1 day a week. This was my first experience working with PT’s and it was totally a wonderful experience. Thank you A2 Physical Therapy and thank you Ms. Molly Daugherty for working with me and making my recovery and stability improve so quickly. Should I need PT again I will call you. Again many thanks."
"Clear, communicative staff that showed great motivation in helping me return to my return to my recreational work and athletic activities Danny is super knowledgeable and had a strong sense of intuition in helping me identify and overcome my limitations. I’ve made an excellent recovery from a critical injury thanks to A2 and am now back to my usual flow."
"Last Sunday I played full court basketball for the first time in 15 years. I will qualify the contest by saying it happened on a court just out of the back door of an elder care center. The teams consisted of a 7 year old, an d8 year old, a young woman in flip-flops (I played in sandals), a woman who proudly stated she was 55 years old (I retorted with my age of 65), and a couple of other young guys that really played well. I ran the court, I played defense, blocked shots, made shots (missed a lot), got lots of rebounds, and talked a lot of smack while playing with a group of people a lot younger than me. I even made a behind the back-twisting fall-away shot, then fell and tumbled on the court. I jumped up and continued to play, and we played for about 45 minutes.
I attribute my ability to play this game that I love so much again to the excellent training receive from Kristy who is a trainer at A2 Physical Therapy. I have worked out and trained since I was very young. I played high school basketball, baseball, and I ran track. I spent 20 years in the Army with all the training requirements associated with that occupation. I played on community and city leagues, and I have trained with weights for many years. The training program Kristy has devised for me at A2 is rigorous, thorough, diverse, fun, challenging, and focused. She prepares workout plans that are age and fitness level appropriate. My work out now is so much different then it was when I first started. She both trains me individually and as a couple. I run, jump, stretch, lift, balance, squat, push, pull, and every other movement you can imagine. I look forward to going to my workout every time. Kristy is completely in charge of every workout. I am retired, and my training at A2 allows me to fill the need to accomplish something positive every day I work out. I am doing physical activity with ease that I would not have thought I would be able be able to accomplish at the age of 65 such as hiking on Mt Rainer and running 4 days per week. Kristy and A2 have really changed my life…"