Are My Patients Texting Too Much?… Oh, Cell No!

In today’s modern technology age, almost everyone has at least one or more mobile device, as well as other smart devices, such as tablets. With the rise and popularity and the ever-increasing use and dependency on these mobile devices comes a slew of overuse injuries involving the fingers, wrist, and thumb, including various tendinitises and nerve compressions.

This particular article will focus on an overuse injury of the thumb that often results in pain, stiffness, and weakness, which is often referred to as “texting thumb” and can be treated with various thumb physical therapy exercises and thumb strengthening techniques. While research and conventional wisdom tells us as therapists that the best treatment for an overuse injury is to reduce or discontinue the activities and motions that are causing that overuse injury, the reality is that avoidance of the use of our smart devices is just not plausible. Can you imagine trying to tell your patients that the only way that they will be able to cure their texting thumb and reduce their symptoms is to stop using their smart devices for 4-6 weeks? They would not only look at you like you’re insane, but they would also probably get up and walk out of your clinic (while using their smart phone to tweet about how crazy their therapist is and post 1-star google and yelp reviews).

 

So what are some realistic ways that we can treat texting thumb with thumb exercises?

  • Manual therapies, including soft tissue massage, myofascial release, and passive stretching
  • Physical agent modalities, including but not limited to, moist heat, paraffin, ultrasound, cold laser, and cryotherapies
  • A Home Exercise Program (HEP) that includes active and passive range of motion exercise to the thumb and wrist

 

Now, for thumb-thing else you might not have thought about… thumb strengthening exercises to prevent reoccurrence! These two particular thumb workout exercises are an excellent way for the patient to regain strength and flexibility and prevent the injury from coming back.

 

  1. Thumb Trainer for Texting Thumb using the VariGrip exerciser 
  2. Thumb MCP Flexion utilizing the VariGrip UNO Device

 

Now that you know how to treat texting thumb effectively and efficiently using carpal tunnel thumb exercises and thumb pain exercises, your patients will be so happy that they will be writing you 5-star google and yelp reviews and tweeting about how awesome their therapist is in no time!

 

Written by Oliver Serrano, OTR, CHT, MBA

 

About the Author:

Oliver Serrano is the co-owner and CEO of Ascend Hand Therapy, an outpatient therapy clinic located in The Colony, TX. His career includes stints at several prestigious hospital systems throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth area, including Baylor Scott & White and Texas Health Resources, as well as employment working directly with numerous well-respected physicians at Plano Orthopedic Sports Medicine & Spine Center and Regional Plastic Surgery Center. Additionally, Oliver has held several management positions, including Assistant Director of Therapy Services at North Dallas Rehabilitation Hospital and Director of Clinical Operations and Sales for Covenant Hand Therapy.

Oliver concentrates his practice on hand and upper extremity orthopedic injuries, with special interests in sports-specific training and rehabilitation and custom splint fabrication with thermoplastics. He received his Certification in Hand Therapy (CHT) from the Hand Therapy Certification Commission in 2009.

 

Education:
Texas Women’s University, Executive MBA & Master’s in Health Systems Management, Summa Cum Laude

Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, B.S. in Occupational Therapy, Summa Cum Laude

Louisiana State University, B.S. in Psychology, Magna Cum Laude