“Text Claw”: Is Your Smartphone Causing You to Have Pain?

No, it’s not a crustacean found at the beach or a delicious seafood dish. “Text claw” is the unofficial term given to a phenomenon caused by repetitive use of the wrist and hand muscles. Overuse of these muscles can lead to pain, weakness, and a loss of range of motion in the wrist and hand. In today’s technology-driven world, we spend quite a bit of time on our smartphones. The world is truly at our fingertips – news, social media, text messaging, shopping, apps, games… but could this be too much of a good thing?

Much like “tech neck,” text claw isn’t a medical term yet. However, especially during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) quarantine, many people are beginning to notice symptoms associated with the overuse of our smartphones and devices. Pain in the dominant wrist and hand, along with muscle tightness and weakness, can develop with repetitive motion of the wrist, thumb, and finger joints. This overuse can also exacerbate existing conditions, such as carpal tunnel syndrome and tendinitis.

What Can I Do About It?

  • Take a break from technology! It is easy to spend long periods of time on our devices without realizing it, especially while practicing social distancing. Take a mental inventory each day of the amount of time that you’ve spent on your smartphone and begin making a conscious effort to decrease this amount of time. At the very least, try to take frequent breaks.
  • Switch hands! It may feel uncomfortable at first, but you can try using your phone with your non-dominant hand occasionally to give your dominant hand a break.
  • Stretch it out. You can perform some self-stretching exercises to improve the range of motion in your hand. You can try exercises like forming a fist then spreading your fingers wide or placing your palm flat on the table and stretching your thumb away from your fingers.
  • Try some self-massage. Gentle self-massage can help to decrease pain and tightness in the hand.
  • If you are experiencing a flare in discomfort, you can try using a cold pack or some ice over the painful area. Try icing the area for 15 minutes, with at least an hour in between icing.

Technology is a wonderful thing, but it is important to monitor the amount of time we spend using it and take note of any symptoms that appear to be related. Even if you are not experiencing symptoms, it is important to keep these tips in mind to avoid developing problems in the future. As always, prevention is key!