A few weeks ago, I woke up and my left hand hurt, specifically the lower half of my thumb down to where it met my wrist. After two weeks of trying to avoid using my thumb in certain ways, it was better, but not all the way, so I went to a doctor. He x-rayed it (for health reasons, I like to avoid x-rays if at all possible, but he needed to x-ray before manipulating my hand and possibly making matters worse).

After the x-ray was normal, he manipulated my hand and asked where it hurts, etc. He asked if I had an injury, which I did not. He asked if I had undertaken any new activities, and I could think of none. He then diagnosed it as tendonitis, and in this case, texter’s thumb. (I had tendonitis in my right forearm once, and in that case, it was tennis elbow.)

I was shocked. I had been using my smartphone a lot, but not more than I had been before that.

The next day it hit me–the problem was likely attributable to my new, larger phone.

I realized my left thumb was reaching further than ever for certain tasks on the phone. While the doctor had called it “texter’s thumb,” what I had done to my thumb had come from texting, sending e-mails, writing notes to myself, and every other activity on my phone—the same way “Don’t Text and Drive” means “Don’t Text, E-Mail, Look at Facebook, or Anything Else While Driving.”)

I started the following:

  • Dictating more. Being able to speak into my phone, and have it type what I am saying, is one of the greatest things ever invented. I had already been using that feature for longer items, and after the “texter’s thumb” diagnosis I began to use it much more frequently for all types of activities, including texts and e-mails.
  • Not reaching as far with my thumb. Rather than stretching my thumb to the far ends of the screen, I’ve been moving the phone to make it easier to reach what I need to.
  • Bringing the screen down. I’ve begun to use the feature where you can bring the screen halfway down by double tapping (not double pushing) the home button. I knew about it but hadn’t been using that feature.
  • Unlocking the phone with my fingerprint (rather than stretching my thumbs to input the passcode). This is another feature I knew about but hadn’t used yet.
  • Typing with other fingers. I’m holding the phone differently at times and using other fingers to tap away in a hunt and peck fashion.
  • Moving a bit slower. I know I had gotten quite fast at typing with my thumbs because people had commented. I’ve slowed down now, which happens to be the key to making any change in your life—slowing down to become aware of what you are doing, becoming present, making conscious decisions, and responding to situations rather than reacting.

Beware of texter’s thumb and, if possible, avoid having it happen in the first place by making some new habits.

Has this happened to you? Have you had other injuries requiring you to create new, better habits? Join the conversation with your comments…

All the best,