top of page

Texter's Thumb Pain

Texter’s Thumb Isn't a New Health Condition

Years ago, many people hand washed their clothes using a rectangular shaped washboard. They used their hands to repeatedly rub the clothing across the ridged surface of the washboard in order to clean their clothes. Over time, the repetitive motion of cleaning large amounts of clothing could cause a person to have pain in the thumb and wrist. Consequently, this type of injury became known as washerwoman’s syndrome (or wash woman’s sprain).


Since the invention of electric washing machines, this type of injury became less common because fewer people used washboards. Although it was still possible to injure the thumb in other ways, many people’s hands were at least spared the mechanical stress of hand washing clothes. One would think, with technological advances, that a health condition known as washerwoman’s syndrome would become a thing of the past. But recently, it’s becoming more common again. Only now this type of injury is called by a new name: Texter’s Thumb.

Just as one would expect, Texter’s Thumb is caused by too much time spent texting, without giving the thumb and wrist time to rest. Doctor’s call this condition DeQuervain’s Syndrome or stenosing tenosynovitis. But it can also be called Trigger Thumb and Gamer Thumb.

Possible Symptoms of Texter’s Thumb

  • Pain at the base of the thumb

  • Pain in the wrist (near the thumb joint)

  • Discomfort when the wrist is bent using a similar motion to hammering

  • Pain when the thumb and first finger are used to grasp or pinch an object

  • Burning sensation in the hand

  • Pain while texting

  • Swelling at the base of the thumb

  • A snapping / catching feeling when the thumb joint moves


What causes Texter’s Thumb?

Texter’s Thumb is an overuse injury. There are 2 tendons that run along the outside of the thumb. These tendons connect to muscles in the forearm. The tendons and muscles work together to bring the thumb to the outside of the hand. Over-texting on a handheld device can cause irritation and inflammation of these tendons and of their protective coverings. The situation can be made worse if a person regularly uses their hands for other activities such as gardening, sports, knitting, carpentry, cleaning, food preparation, or playing a musical instrument.

Natural treatment and remedies for Texter’s Thumb

  • Avoid overuse of the hand

  • Reduce the amount of time using the thumbs to text

  • Reduce the amount of time playing console games

  • Brace or tape the wrist to immobilize the thumb joint

  • Use of ice on the thumb and wrist

  • Occasionally apply a natural, topical anti-inflammatory such as arnica (only use arnica on unbroken skin)

  • Avoid trapping or twisting the wrist or thumb while sleeping at night

  • Use of proper ergonomics for daily activities

  • Schedule an appointment with a chiropractor who treats arms and hands

Two people texting on mobile phones
Did You Know?

  • Each hand has 27 bones, and over 123 ligaments

  • The human hand has an opposable thumb. This means the thumb can move around to touch all the other fingers

  • Humans can move their thumb farther across their hand than any other animal

  • Approximately one fourth of all sports injuries involve the hand and wrist

  • The fingers of the hand have no muscles.  The muscles that move the fingers are located in the palm and forearm.

It's important to keep the bones of the hand in a proper alignment. Sports injuries, overuse, and landing on your hands during a fall can alter the position of the hand bones. Our Flagler Beach chiropractors have experience with manipulating the bones of the hand to restore them to a more natural alignment.

bottom of page