Cell phones are a huge part of modern life. A smart phone can give access to e-mail, Facebook, Candy Crush Saga, Pokémon GO, Netflix, podcasts, music, GPS, and can even make phone calls. Perhaps one of the most exciting thing about cell phones is texting – the ability to have a conversation at your leisure, put pictures in your conversations, and even sneak messages in at work when the boss isn’t looking. But distracted driving and text abbreviations are not the only pitfalls to having so much information and entertainment available in a one-handed portable device. Frequent use of cellphones may be a real pain in the wrists.
“Text claw” may not be a proper medical diagnosis, but repetitive stress disorder is. Prolonged use of a smartphone may leave a patient with pain, tingling, or numbness throughout his or her fingers, hands, and/or wrists. These symptoms are usually caused by acute tendinitis, or inflammation of the tendons in the wrists, hands, or fingers. If these repetitive motions continue, tendinitis may become chronic, leading to more long-term pain. Fortunately, there are simple things a person can do to alleviate the pain of overuse of their phone.
Apply heat or cold – If your pain has been present for less than a week, applying cold packs to the inflamed areas may reduce the inflammation and therefore alleviate symptoms. For more long lasting symptoms, heat may help relax the irritated tendons and muscles.
Flex your wrist – Stretch your arms so that your hand is flexed backwards, with your fingers being moved closer to the back of your wrist. Then reverse the stretch, with your fingers pointing down towards the inner arm. Giving the tendons in the wrist a good stretch may help prevent them from tensing up and feeling overworked.
Stretch your wrists in a “prayer position” – Placing the palms together with the fingers pointing towards the ceiling may provide many of the same benefits as the aforementioned wrist flexion.
If you experience severe or frequent pain in your wrists, hands, or fingers, consult your doctor to make sure there is not a more serious condition at work.