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Do you have scroller's thumb?

Smartphones have become our most prized possessions, holding our contacts, music, banking and our all-important social media accounts.

Now, all those hours of swiping, scrolling, typing and flicking across the screen are taking their toll on users’ hands, giving rise to cases of ‘scroller thumb’.

Also called ‘smartphone thumb’ or ‘text thumb’, symptoms include pain, numbness and stiffness as the tendons become inflamed – a condition called tendonitis.

And it’s on the rise as our devices get bigger and ever more addictive with apps such as TikTok, in which users must flick upwards to reveal the next video on their app homepage.

‘Scroller thumb is a repetitive strain injury,’ London-based consultant chartered physiotherapist Sammy Margo tells Mail+.

‘It’s had a resurgence recently because of the rise of the popularity of TikTok, and the way we use our phones,’ she says.

‘The tendons are not designed to be held continuously and continuously flicking. They’re designed to move little and often throughout the day.

‘What happens is twofold – there is the movement upwards and also the downward pressure. So the tendons are being overstretched and irritated and they become inflamed.’

She advises taking regular breaks from your device, even setting an alarm as a reminder to put it down.

She also recommends getting a device with a bigger screen or swapping out your phone for a tablet to encourage you to use your fingers as well as thumbs, so no one digit is being overused.

If the condition continues or gets worse, she recommends visiting your GP. In the meantime, here are her four top moves to help combat scroller thumb:

Repeat these exercises three times a day

1. Take an elastic band and place it around your fingers and thumb. Spring your fingers and thumb open and let them fall back into their resting position ten times.

2. Grip a stress ball or putty ten times.

3. With a very light weight in your hand, extend your arm in front with your palm facing downwards. Keeping your arms level, use your wrists to lift the weight up and back with your hand ten times.

4. With arms extended in front of you and your thumbs facing the ceiling, form a fist. Then tuck your thumb inside your fingers.

Gently squeeze your fingers to pull down on your thumb for the count of ten.

Written by Luisa Metcalfe for Mailplus

May 21 2021


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