In this technological age, we spend lots of time using our electronic devices. Whether it’s a smartphone, tablet, or a computer, it seems we just can’t take our eyes off those glowing screens. At Resurgens Orthopaedics, we know that while technology can improve our lives, it can also cause health problems. Today, in honor of National Techies Day, we’d like to talk to you about technology-related repetitive stress injuries like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and “Texting Thumb.”
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The median nerve, which is responsible for sending signals to your hands, travels through a hole in the wrist bones known as the carpal tunnel. When you perform repetitive finger movements (like typing) this nerve can become inflamed and get pinched, causing pain, numbness and limited mobility. This condition, called Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, affects an estimated 5% of the United States population.
If you’re a techie who spends a lot of time typing, you may be susceptible to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Symptoms include pain or numbness in the wrists and hands. While it’s a good idea to be aware of these warning signs, there’s also some pre-emptive action you can take. Ergonomics experts recommend using a wrist pad when you type to keep the wrists elevated, reducing the strain on your median nerve.
This is a relatively new condition which is not clearly defined, although in the medical community it is thought to be a form of trigger thumb, a constriction of the thumb’s flexor tendon. While the science is still out on texting thumb, doctors believe frequent texting and use of smartphones may cause or aggravate this condition. A popping or clicking when bending the thumb may be an indicator that you have trigger thumb; in severe cases the thumb may become locked in a curled position.
While cortisone injections and surgery have been used to treat trigger thumb, it may be better to be proactive and make an effort to curb your texting addiction, or failing that, consider using your index finger when you’re on the phone.
So whether your guilty pleasure is video games, social media, or just texting with friends, please be aware that these activities may be correlated with repetitive stress injuries. To all the tech junkies out there, we wish you a happy National techies day, and don’t forget to contact Resurgens Orthpaedics if you end up with pain in your texting hand.