Thumb and Neck Pain: Smartphones
Along with many conveniences, smartphones have brought with them a few health problems. Some people who use their smartphones heavily have found problems in their thumbs and necks. These conditions are called “text thumb” and “text neck.”
Have you noticed your thumb popping and snapping when you bend it? Does it hurt? You may have text thumb. The kind of repetitive motions you use to click, drag, swipe, and drop can cause this painful condition. In serious cases the thumb may even get locked into a curling position.
If your thumb has lost mobility from smartphone use, your doctor may recommend cortisone injections. When injected into a stiff area, cortisone reduces inflammation, which also reduces pain in most cases. When treated, text thumbs can be restored to full mobility about 80% of the time.
As we get older it’s common to develop shoulder, neck, and lower back pain. But these symptoms are now being seen in younger people who spend too much time hunched over while absorbed in their smartphones. By dropping your head to look down at your phone, your head puts far more pressure on your neck—as much as 60 pounds of force.
To relieve text neck, your best hope may be to focus on good posture. Do you stand and sit up straight? If not, focus on keeping your spine in line. Try holding your phone up to your face rather than bending your neck to see the screen. And if the problem keeps happening, shoulder extensions are a simple stretch that can ease your pain.