Learn More About Texter's Thumb (De Quervain’s Syndrome)

Texting has become more prevalent than most types of communication. Add to that all the time spent using the cell for other things, those thumbs are going to take a beating. 

The thumb is meant for gripping, not necessarily performing the complicated, repetitive movements that texting demands. Essentially what happens when De Quervain’s Syndrome, or ‘texter’s thumb’, is present is that the tendons get compressed within the synovial sheath (the tendon’s housing unit) which has become inflamed from repetitive stress. Pollicis brevis and abductor pollicis longus are the muscles that are connected to the tendons of the thumb. These muscles extend into the forearm and can even be responsible for referred pain into the upper arm, shoulder, back near the shoulder blades and the chest area.

De Quervain’s Syndrome is a form of tendonitis which is an inflammation of a tendon. Because of the inflammation, some symptoms may include a “popping sound” at the base of the thumb where a tendon nodule is popping in and out of the sheath. Also, pain and tenderness on the outside of the thumb and wrist. 

Over time the loss of grip strength can be permanent as the tendons are damaged and corroded from the compression. 

Not all texting is created equally. Sitting hunched over with just the thumb doing all the work is a sure fire way to walk into De Quearvain’s world. However, sitting erect so the shoulders are not rounded and putting added tension on the arm muscles can help. In addition, texting with multiple fingers can help disperse the workload. This may not be as efficient so limiting the amount of time spent texting is another option. Even texting with a smaller screen can help because the further the thumb has to reach (or flex and extend), the more stress is put on the joint. 

Massage therapy is also fantastic as a preventative tool as well as a therapeutic solution after the fact. By releasing trigger points and tension in the forearm and thumb muscles, the joint can move more freely. This will release compression of the sheath and thus reduce the tendon inflammation. 

For Texter’s Thumb Trigger Point Therapy, book your appointment here! We specialize in assessing and treating your overworked digit.