Is your Smart phone causing your hand pain?
I know what you’re thinking, can my smart phone really cause pain? I saw several patients with similar hand pain. I questioned each person on which hand they used their phone in and how often. Sure enough we found the culprit…excessive smart phone usage. In fact, overusing smart phones and tablets can even cause neck and low back pain as well. This head-down position strains the muscles in the neck, and can extend all the way down your spine to your low back. These types of pains are called repetitive strain injuries.
What is Repetitive strain injury or overuse syndrome?
Repetitive strain injury (RSI) or overuse syndrome is a very general term for pain and swelling, often around a joint, tied to repetitive movements or motions. This injury can sometimes be referred to as “Blackberry thumb”. RSI can be tied to conditions such as Carpal Tunnel syndrome, DeQuervains Tenosynovitis, and even Golfer’s and Tennis elbow.
Why does this happen?
Our thumbs are not a very dexterous part of the hand. They are designed for gripping in a pinching motion between the fingers. When we start to use our thumbs for repetitive and fast typing it can result in an aggravating injury and cause over usage of thumb musculature and tendons. Hyperextension and awkward positioning can cause the tendons at the base of the thumb to become irritated and inflamed. Therefore, if you’re having pain or muscle tension in the thumb web space or base of thumb joint when you are typing or using your thumbs, you might have an RSI.
What can you do about this problem?
1.) The first and most obvious solution is to cut down on daily usage. This may be difficult for some of us since our phones allow us to do more convenient tasks for work and personal use. You may want to try holding your phone in one hand and using the other hand’s fingers to type.
2.) Keep your messages short and use word prediction, abbreviations, and pre-typed messages whenever possible.
3.) Stretching your thumb and fingers can help. Spread apart your fingers and thumb so your hand looks like the picture below. To create more resistance, you may take a rubber band and put it around your hand.
4.) If the problem area becomes swollen, ice can be used to reduce inflammation and/or swelling.
5.) Acupuncture has been shown to be very effective for pain relief and releasing muscle tension.
Dr. Kurt Brewer is a Chiropractic Physician at Synergy Rehabilitation & Chiropractic located at 1048 Ogden Ave. Suite 110, Downers Grove, IL 60515
For more information on this topic or any health related issues, you can email Drbrewer@synergyrehabs.com or call 630-322-9522.