In 1997, we saw the hilarious antics of Jim Carey in a movie called Liar Liar. In the movie, the comedic genius introduces us to “The Claw”, a game he plays with his son where his hand claws up and attacks his son. Little did we know that within 17 years, many people would be afflicted with the same syndrome. Since the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, the smart phone industry and cell phone use have exploded and as the tech industry grows, we become more attached and dependent on our phones.
Like any repetitive motion, texting can cause irritation to the thumb and surrounding soft tissues, but it’s not the only cause of wrist and hand pain. By holding our smartphones in a claw like position, we are starting to give ourselves de Quervain’s tendonitis (also known as blackberry thumb), named after the Swiss surgeon Fritz de Quervain. Symptoms include pain or tenderness, as well as swelling on the thumb side of the wrist. The exact cause of de Quervain Tendonitis is unknown, but many believe its inflammation caused by a repetitive strain injury.
When we hold our hand in the claw like position our thumb is held in abduction and extension for extended periods of time, which is considered to be a predisposition for the syndrome. Two thumb muscles, extensor pollicis brevis and abductor pollicis longus, are in a constant contracted state when we hold our phones for long period of time. This can strain the tendons, which run through the synovial sheaths in the wrist, which is why de Quervain’s is felt in the wrist. Our version of Jim Carey’s claw is not attacking others, but rather ourselves.
There is HOPE!
First, put your smart phone down more often…(after you finish this article, of course). Second, try to pay attention to how tight you’re gripping your phone, and loosen it a little bit. Third, get yourself a pair of Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Balls to help roll out the tension in the soft tissues of your hand. See the video below for suggestions on how to use your YTU Balls at your desk, from YTU Teacher Sandy Byrne. Sandy’s techniques are incredibly helpful to help erase the pain of the claw.
While there are many other ways cell phone use can be harmful to hands, I hear complaints about thumb pain from texting the most. Using the YTU therapy ball techniques in the video will help with the other muscle pains you may experience in your hand from texting claw!
Good luck & txt U L8R! LOL