How Cell Phones Can Affect Your Fingers

Cell phones are an indispensible tool in today’s society. A lot of us feel naked without our phones in plain sight. However, there are some health concerns associated with these tiny pieces of technology that you might not think of.

We have all heard things about the way our phones affect our bodies. However, there is a casualty of everyday cell phone use that we tend to overlook – our fingers. We can spend hours with a phone in our grasp, whether we are talking or texting, and not think twice about what it is doing to our hands. Some of the most common conditions caused by too much cell phone use are trigger finger and “text thumbs.”

The Mayo Clinic defines trigger finger as “a condition in which one of your fingers or thumb catches in a bent position. Your finger or thumb may straighten with a snap – like a trigger being pulled and released.” This sometimes-painful condition is caused by overuse and overdevelopment of the flexor tendons, or the tendons used to curl our fingers. Holding your cell phone all day can cause this. The tendons then develop scar tissue that builds up and catches on the tendon sheath, making it difficult to straighten out the affected fingers. Symptoms often begin with a swelling sensation and a popping or snapping when you bend and relax your fingers. More acute cases can cause the fingers to lock so firmly that you have to use your opposite hand to straighten them. These cases are usually accompanied by pain that makes it difficult to perform everyday tasks. When left untreated, this condition can cause permanent damage to the tendons and tendon sheaths. It is important to see a doctor if you begin having these symptoms. Typically, treatment begins with rest and discontinuation of the activity that caused the symptoms in the first place. Stretches are usually enough to cure most cases, but sometimes surgery can be necessary for extreme situations.

Another common injury associated with cell phones is called texting tenosynovitis, or “text thumb”. As the name implies, this is associated with texting for extended periods of time. Texting causes to use our thumbs in an unnatural way; they were meant to help us grip and grasp things, not type. Considering that some people can type up to 40 words per minute on their Blackberry, this puts our thumbs at risk for injury. Text thumb is really a technologically enhanced case of repetitive strain injury. The nerves get irritated and inflamed, and the thumbs begin to hurt. Some dedicated texters can even develop de Quervain’s tenosynovitis, which causes pain along the side of the wrist at the base of the thumb. Treatment for this condition is similar to that of any overuse condition – rest, ice packs, anti-inflammatories, and in some severe cases, cortisone injections.

The best treatment for both of these conditions, however, is to prevent them in the first place. Try to make sure and stretch your hands throughout the day. Don’t always use the same hand to hold your phone – switch between the two throughout the day. If you are texting and your thumbs begin to get sore, stop texting and call instead. And don’t fall for the various thumb splints on the market that claim to alleviate texting thumb, because they often make the problem worse. While we may not be able to use our phones less, we can lessen the impact our phones have on our fingers.

Questions for your Dr. Before using Ice/Heat Therapy

As the customer service/sales manager at IceWraps, I have learned that people’s primary care physician or specialist, simply don’t give their patients enough advice on the type and duration of hot or cold therapy they need .

One of the most frequent question I get is “how long do I need to ice/heat and how often.” While I can certainly answer this in general terms each person’s needs are specific to their injury.

You may have one person who really needs to ice/heat for ten minutes another might need to go the full twenty minutes anywhere from once a day to three or four times a day. So while I will share this general information, I strongly suggest each person check with their doctor for their specific needs.

Of course, one of my big concerns is that some customers want to ice or heat an area longer then twenty minutes. Most people don’t realize that over icing can actually cause frostbite (actual damage to the tissue of the skin).

While it’s always my goal to give each person the best advice I can, as an online store, I don’t speak with most people who purchase from us. Likewise I am not a medical doctor nor are any of our other customer service specialists, so we’re unable to give specific medical advice.

So here are some general questions you should ask your doctor before using ice/heat therapy:

  • 1. How long should the ice/heat be applied per session? (general range 10 to 20 minutes)

  • 2. How many times throughout a day should I ice/heat (should wait at least 10 to 20 minutes between ice/heat therapy)

  • 3. How many days, weeks, months will I need ice/heat therapy?

  • 4. Should I be using just ice, just heat or a combination of both? (if both, generally ice followed by heat)

  • Be proactive in your care! Not only will this help you heal faster, this type of information will also help me or one of our other customer service specialists help you get the product you need.

    Pain is Not Discriminatory

    It is not just athletes and active individuals that have to deal with pain. Headaches, backaches, neck aches and muscle pain are common to everyone. knows this and we carry a large supply of unique cold and hot packs and wraps. A very useful product is our Pressure Point Cold Therapy Packs. These packs aid in the relief of headaches, back aches and muscle soreness.

    Combining pressure point therapy and cold therapy these packs are a must have. Many times, everyone gets that achy soreness that just won’t quit. A person can not get comfortable no matter what they do. These packs do the work for them.

    Horrible pain can stop a person in their tracks and ruin their entire day. There is no need to deal with all that. Just take a little time out to rest with one of these packs and get up feeling great and being able to finish out your day on top.

    Got a Pain in the Neck?

    No, I don’t mean if someone is being annoying or not! Neck pain, also known as cervicalgia is a very common complaint that many adults have it’s very distinct.

    What is Cervicalgia?

    If you’re curious, cervicalgia is a pain in the neck that stays in the neck. Meaning it does not radiate outwards into the back or arms as some neck pain does. The neck muscles are under constant tension to hold the held up and in the event of a sudden, sharp movement those muscles can be torn as they are in a tightened position almost constantly. The result is a centered, almost constant neck pain.

    How Do I Know If It’s Cervicalgia?
    You need to have a qualified medical professional look at your neck to ascertain if it is truly cervicalgia. Symptoms of cervicalgia usually include a sharp pain in the neck. A strong ache in the area of the neck and pain is felt when the head is turned (do this gently) from side to side.

    What Are Some Forms of Pain Relief for Cervicalgia?
    First of all, apply ice if you suspect there may be a tear in the muscle. A special neck collar can help the muscles rest while acting as a good support for the head. There are some forms of rehabilitation exercises, consult with your physician before attempting them as they aren’t’ right for all people recovering from this type of injury.

    The Internet Brought Many Advances – Including More Carpal Tunnel Cases

    Along with the Internet, came bad posture, poor keyboarding techniques and the inevitable Carpal Tunnel cases. Many people are under the mistaken impression that they have to live with the pain and when you work in a job that requires constant movement of the hands over a keyboard or other repetitious movement of the hands and arms such as assembly line work (which once upon a time accounted for a huge number of carpal tunnel cases).

    How Do You Know It’s Carpal Tunnel?

    The condition doesn’t exactly have a calling card but it makes itself known just the same.

    The earliest symptoms are numbness, tingling, dropping objects due to a problem with grasping and weakness; all of which become pain with movement of this area of the body. The disease typically affects the thumb, index, and middle fingers and is often much worse at night to the point of affecting sleep. A major nerve, specifically the median nerve, travels down the arm and enters the hand through the carpal tunnel, which is located in the central part of the wrist. In people with carpal tunnel syndrome, pressure in the carpal tunnel is higher than in unaffected people, and median nerve irritation occurs. Additionally, individuals that have suffered a broken wrist in the past can be at risk for developing this syndrome.

    Individuals that use computer keyboards are especially at risk, whether it’s for playing World of Warcraft, writing that long-worked-on novel or it’s part of your job to work on a computer all day; how you sit and hold your hands while doing these activities will contribute greatly to whether or not Carpal Tunnel will be part of your future.

    Home Treatments for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

    *Supporting the affected area with a wrist brace is a great helper for many sufferers.
    *Cold therapy on the affected area several times a day will relieve the pain, a wrist/arm wrap that can be held in place is ideal.
    *Explore ergonomic keyboards that give your wrist and forearms a place to rest while typing.
    *If your job requires repetitious movements, ask for help in finding a way to do your position without causing additional injury.
    *Stretch your hands before repetitious activities and take frequent breaks to stretch your hands and arms to help the muscles work in other directions.

    Carpal Tunnel isn’t life threatening and it’s rarely an emergency, however it can be very painful and it will affect your ability to work, drive, and do any task that requires using your hands if you don’t start managing your symptoms as early as you suspect you may have developed this condition. If you don’t address Carpal Tunnel early on, the arm and hand may be damaged to the point surgery may be your only option.

    If you do feel you have this disease, get it diagnosed by a medical professional and start early pain management with ice and you’ll soon have your Carpal Tunnel under control.