Continuous typing can cause repetitive motion injuries that cause pain in and affect the function of digits. Historically, carpal tunnel syndrome has been a pervasive injury caused by repeated typing. As messaging on handheld devices becomes more common, texting thumb is joining carpal tunnel syndrome as a major orthopedic issue. Here are three warning signs of these two increasingly common injuries.

Pain and Numbness in the Wrist and Fingers

Carpal tunnel is caused by over-stretching the median nerve, which runs through the carpal tunnel in the wrist and to the fingers. As this nerve is overworked, it becomes painful and may cause numbness. The symptoms may occur anywhere along where the nerve runs from the wrist to the fingers.

Nurse is treating patient after carpal tunnel syndrome operation

Popping or Clicking in the Thumb

Texting thumb is brought on by the overuse of the flexor tendon, which manipulates the thumb. Because this is a tendon, and not a nerve, the symptoms of texting thumb often manifest differently than those of carpal tunnel.

One of the first signs of texting thumb is a clicking or popping sound that occurs when the thumb is moved. The sound may occur when the thumb is moved in a specific direction or to a certain degree, or it might occur seemingly anytime the thumb is moved.

Inability to Move the Thumb

If the initial symptoms of texting thumb are ignored or go untreated, the thumb may eventually be locked in place. As the tendon is worn out, it can cause the thumb to curl. In severe cases, people may not be able to uncurl the thumb.

Seek Early Treatment by an Orthopedic Specialist

While both carpal tunnel and texting thumb can be severe, there are effective ways to treat each condition. If you’re experiencing any of these warning signs, see an orthopedic specialist who can evaluate your specific symptoms. The earlier you seek medical help, the faster the condition can be remedied.

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