What are the long-term ef­fects of con­stant thumb use for tex­ting, etc?

Asked by Steve De­war

Guru Magazine - - Ask A Guru - An­swer by James Crewd­son

In to­day’s gadget-cen­tred world, the thumb has been called into ac­tion more than ever be­fore. Gone are the days when the thumb’s main pur­pose was to grip tools; it is now vi­tal for mod­ern day com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Whether you’re re­lax­ing at home play­ing on a games con­sole or out and about send­ing texts from your phone, your thumbs are be­ing worked harder than ever. So does this in­creased thumb use have any knock-on ef­fects? For the aver­age per­son, your thumb is able to cope with the daily bur­den of dig­i­tal tasks. How­ever, ex­tremes of thumb use are be­com­ing much more com­mon­place, es­pe­cially due to the con­stant need to pro­vide new tweets and up­date sta­tuses via our now-ubiq­ui­tous smart­phones – all of which has led to the de­vel­op­ment of con­di­tions such as ‘Black­berry thumb’ and ‘gamer’s thumb’. Th­ese are repet­i­tive strain in­juries: the thumb and some­times the sur­round­ing ar­eas be­come painful and slightly swollen. This is

nor­mally due to the ten­dons of the thumb mus­cles be­com­ing in­flamed as many small ar­eas of dam­age ac­cu­mu­late. Though painful, your thumbs should go back to nor­mal if you give them a cou­ple days off. There’s noth­ing to sug­gest that tex­ting will cause long-term con­di­tions such as arthri­tis. (Twit­ter is for Grand­mas too.) But if you were to de­velop arthri­tis then you’d prob­a­bly no­tice it in your thumbs first as they get so much use. But, pro­vid­ing you don’t go over the top, your thumbs will prob­a­bly re­main ca­pa­ble to han­dle the chal­lenges the elec­tronic world throws at them.

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