Mobile communication devices like smart phones and tablets allow millions of Americans to check and compose e-mail, access the Internet, exchange instant messages, and manage their daily schedules. They are often equipped with a miniaturized QWERTY-style keypad, which allows users to type with their thumbs.

The thumb is not designed for the number of repetitive movements involved in typing, especially the isolated movements required to use these devices. Injuries related to overuse of the thumbs include aggravation of arthritis and/or thumb extensor tendonitis called DeQuervain’s Disease. The following are a few steps you can take to prevent these injuries when using your smart phone.

Take a break and stretch

Pay attention to your body. It can take only a few minutes of heavy thumb typing to cause damage. Before you begin to feel discomfort or fatigue, take a break, stretch, and work on something else for a few minutes.

The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) recommends the following simple stretches:

  • Tap each finger with the thumb of the same hand. Repeat 5 times.
  • Alternate tapping of the palm of your hand and the back of your hand against your thigh as quickly as you can. Repeat 20 times.
  • Open up your hands and spread fingers as far apart as possible. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 8 times.
  • Fold your hands together; turn your palms away from your body as you extend your arms forward. You should only feel a gentle stretch. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 8 times.
  • Fold your hands together; turn your palms away from your body and extend your arms overhead. You should feel the stretch in your upper torso and shoulders, to the hands. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 8 times.

Additional Ways to Reduce Texting Tenosynovitis

  • Support your forearms while texting – studies have indicated a greater impact on muscles of the upper limbs when texting while standing.
  • Text with both hands or alternate your hands.
  • Reduce texting speed. The pace in which one performs a task plays a key role in the potential development of upper extremity soft-tissue damage. Slowing down reduces this factor.
  • Try reducing the number of text messages you send. Tenosynovitis is caused by overuse, and this is the simplest way to help prevent it.
  • Consider using the voice messaging feature on your specific smart phone to cut down on the amount of typing you do. This can be an efficient, quick and hands-free method to send text messages.

The above evaluations and/or recommendations are for general guidance only and should not be relied upon for legal compliance purposes. They are based solely on the information provided to us and relate only to those conditions specifically discussed. We do not make any warranty, expressed or implied, that your workplace is safe or healthful or that it complies with all laws, regulations or standards.


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