In 2018, Americans sent on average 27 billion texts per day. Yes, you read that right. On average, we as a nation sent almost 30 billion text per day, which equals out to about 94 texts per day per person. There were also 281 billion more emails sent worldwide. That’s a lot of typing and texting. With all that typing and texting, it’s no wonder that increasingly more people are complaining about pain in the fingers, wrist, and especially thumbs. This pain, when concentrated in the thumb and wrist area, is known as De Quervain’s tenosynovitis (or tendinosis).
Many people may think that they have arthritis or carpal tunnel. De Quervain’s can lead to those things if not treated. However, if you’re too young to have arthritis or carpal tunnel, the pain in your wrist and thumb is most likely from typing and texting too much.
What Is De Quervain’s?
Quite simply, De Quervain’s is inflammation of the tendons that run alongside the thumb side of the wrist. Doctors and medical researchers don’t know what causes the inflammation. More than likely, however, they think it’s due to overuse and misuse. Those who work in an office setting and spend a lot of time typing on computers may be at a higher risk of having De Quervain’s since you use your thumb and fingers to type, which are connected to your wrist.
Those who spend a lot of time texting may also be prone to pain along the thumb and wrist. However, any movement that uses the wrist or pulls the thumb away from the risk can result in the painful condition. Such activities as tennis and golf, as well as playing the piano and carpentry, can also result in the disease.
When you move your thumb around, especially away from the wrist, you pull on the tendons that run alongside the thumb and wrist. When you move your thumb this way repetitively, it could lead to swelling and thickening of the tendons, which results in pain.
Usually, when someone has De Quervain’s, they have pain and swelling at the base of the thumb where it connects to the wrist. However, other symptoms include:
- Pain during movement of the thumb or wrist when typing, texting, or grasping;
- Pain when you make a fist;
- Feeling or hearing a cracking or popping as you move your thumb;
- Difficulty gripping or having a weak grip.
Dealing With De Quervain’s
If you’re formally diagnosed as having De Quervain’s, you’re most likely going to wear a wrist splint for two to three weeks. However, if you don’t need to be formally diagnosed to reap the benefits of these recommendations for dealing with wrist and thumb pain. In fact, doing these recommended tips may help you manage any pain from overuse due to typing and texting and even avoid it in the future.
- Place your affected hand palm-side down on a table. Move your thumb back and forth slowly away from your fingers and wrist. Repeat this 5 to 10 times. You can also do it with your hand sideways and little finger on the table.
- With your affected hand palm-side down on a table, gently move your thumb up and down slowly. Repeat this 5 to 10 times. Once you know longer feel pain while doing this exercise, move your hand and wrist off the table and continue the exercise.
- Place an elastic band around the tips of the fingers and thumb. Move your thumb against the resistance of the band. Repeat about 10 times.
- Stretch out your arm of the affected hand. With our other hand, slowly push down on the back of the hand, stretching the wrist. Hold this position for no longer than 30 seconds, take a break, and repeat up to three times. Then, do the same thing, but stretch upwards instead of downwards.
- Hold a can – not a weight – upright in the affected hand. Turn the can to the side (your palm should now be facing down) and then return to the starting position of the palm facing to the side. Repeat two sets of 15.
Another recommendation is using heat on the affected area to loosen the tightness of the tendon and ice to reduce swelling.
The most important thing for preventing De Quervain’s or any hand, finger, and wrist pain is to take frequent breaks from typing and texting.