Is Texting Painful? Doctors Say ‘Smartphone Thumb’ Is On the Rise

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Your texting habit might be giving you tendonitis. If you find yourself struggling to tap out texts, you’re not alone. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota tell CBS News that “smartphone thumb” is on the upswing, thanks to the unnatural way we move our thumbs while punching out messages on touchscreens.

Once common to factory workers, tendonitis of the finger now also affects people whose work involves more emailing than manufacturing. Kristin Zhao, a Mayo Clinic engineer in Rochester, Minnesota, has been developing imaging techniques that show what happens to nearby bones when joints move. She and her colleagues hypothesize that the pain of smartphone thumb might come from a loosening of the joint that causes the bones in the thumb to move in a different way.

Their imaging research is designed to create a baseline of normal bone movement to compare to. The idea is that the quicker doctors can catch the abnormal motion, the quicker they can correct it, minimizing pain down the line.

The best way to prevent permanent injury to your favorite texting digits is to employ some of the same strategies you might use to ward off carpal tunnel. Take breaks, do a little stretching, and above all, be aware of the problem. If you really must keep up your emailing, texting, Instagramming, and Whatsapping for hours at a time, try to at least switch up that finger posture. Type things with your pointer fingers on occasion.

A healthier idea, of course, would be just to put your phone down for a few minutes.

[h/t CBS News]