People are apparently using their phones too much and getting 'numb thumbs'

Smartphones have become a regular part of our daily lives. We use them to text, tweet, and stream videos, and all of this requires the use of our fingers — more often than not, specifically our thumbs.

Nellie Bowles at The New York Times recently published an article called "Me and My Numb Thumb: A Tale of Tech, Texts and Tendons." In it, Bowles talks about how, as she's continued to use her phone day after day, she's discovered a pain in her right thumb. She calls this "a depressingly modern condition in which the tendons around the thumb inflame as a result of repetitive strain," but one day, it got pretty serious —

Eventually, my right thumb just stopped working. It could not muster the strength to press down on my phone. It was both numb and achy. And the pain that had started in my hand was now shooting down my arm. I had a problem, one I later learned was becoming common.

Bowles says she soon discovered that many of her co-workers and friends had experienced similar issues, and after speaking with her doctor, discovered she may have a condition called De Quervain's Tendinosis. This is caused when a tendon is overused due to repetitive motions/actions, and as Bowles continues —

"It's a crisis," said Sanjeev Kakar, an orthopedic surgeon at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota who specializes in hand injuries and has seen an increase in the number of thumb "overuse cases." Dr. Kakar said he had noticed that the condition was spreading among adults and older people in particular.

Bowles also reached out to Professor of Communication Nancy Ann Cheever from California State University, who said —

We assume teenagers are using their phones more, but it's actually not the case, because younger people tend to have a lot more awareness of their smartphone use. They have a more complete understanding of the harmful effects of smartphone use because they've been taught about it since they were kids.

I've personally never experienced anything along these lines, but a couple of my family members have previously complained about their hands and thumbs hurting from holding/using their phones as often as they do.

What about you? Do you have numb thumbs? Let us know (if you can) in the comments below 👍

Phone addiction is making me sad and anxious, but so is the idea of quitting

Joe Maring

Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.