Technology can be great. It can put the world at your fingertips and put almost anything you could think of in your grasp, including joint pain.
Tapping and typing on smart devices or computers can irritate existing conditions like tendonitis or arthritis or lead to other drivers of joint pain like carpal tunnel syndrome.
Pain can be caused or irritated by the repetitive movement of your fingers on a keyboard or stretching them on a mouse. The repetitive tapping or grasping with a phone can also lead to problems.
Smartphones have recently given rise to cases of a condition known as texting tendinitis, smartphone thumb, or “trigger” thumb. Symptoms will generally flare-up while using the device and may lead to:
- Cramping in the flesh are between the thumb and index finger (called the thenar eminence)
- Numbing/stiffness in the thumb
- Clicking noise when moving the thumb
- Throbbing in the thumb
If you’ve been experiencing pain from too much tapping and typing, here are some things to try:
Stretch your fingers: Before using your device, lace your fingers together and push out your arms, so your fingers get a full stretch. You can also perform finger slides and other hand-focused exercises that may help reduce pain and improve range of motion.
Try a splint: Using a splint to help stabilize the joint can help keep your finger straight throughout the day.
Heat/cold therapy: Ice may help reduce inflammation, and heat may help reduce pain, too.
Put your phone down: Taking a break from your phone or screen time altogether can help give your fingers, thumb, wrist, and eyes a break. It might give your mind a rest, too. Start with an hour and try to work up to a day!
You can also try setting a timer to make sure you put your device down after a set time, as well.