If Your Thumb Hurts From Scrolling On Your Smartphone, You May Have This

Smartphones have come a long way since they first hit the market in the 1990s (via Britannica). In addition to communication via email or phone, modern smartphones enable the user to do a wide variety of things, from texting and accessing the internet to playing games and downloading applications (via Investopedia). While smartphones can make life easier, they affect humans in some surprising ways, for the worse.

Smartphones alter posture and can require your body to hold or repeat certain movements that can lead to bodily damage. According to WebMD, excessive time spent staring down at your smartphone makes your neck crane, which can lead to a painful condition called tech neck — a strain that can cause tight muscles or even spasms. Further, some research shows that people who spend more than 5 hours a day on a hand-held electronic device report muscle pain with more intensity and frequency than those who spend less than 5 hours (per WebMD). Here's everything you need to know about a smartphone-related condition that affects the thumb.

Trigger thumb: causes, symptoms, and treatment

If your thumb(s) cramp, are stiff, in pain, or click, pop, or snap during movement, then you may have trigger thumb (via Healthline). The thumb may lock in a bent position and hurt when you try to straighten it (per WebMD). Notably, symptoms may become more prominent or worse when using your device. This condition is also be referred to as smartphone thumb, texting tendinitis, or trigger finger (via Healthline).

Trigger thumb — sometimes medically referred to as stenosing tenosynovitis — can happen when the protective sheath around the tendon becomes inflamed, affecting the tendon's mobility (per Mayo Clinic). Over time, the inflammation can lead to scarring. As the tendon moves through the inflamed sheath, it can make a popping sound — hence the name "trigger thumb." 

Notably, WebMD says that this condition is usually caused by repetitive movements, like scrolling. That's why it is important to set your phone to the side for a while. Rest may give your thumb time to heal (via WebMD). If you must use your phone, try doing so without the use of your thumb. Splints can be effective in stabilizing the thumb. Additionally, your doctor may recommend over-the-counter medicines like ibuprofen, or even give you a steroid injection. Remember, if it hurts, stop "pain scrolling."