How to Relieve Blackberry Thumb

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 32,366
    Physical therapist Trish Muse of Body Productions, Inc., demonstrates a simple exercise you can do to stretch out cramped thumbs.

    Trish Muse: Hi, I am Trish Muse with Body Productions, Inc. I am a Physical Therapist. Today, I am going to show you how to avoid workplace injuries. Next, I will show you a stretch and exercise that you can do to alleviate pain or strain that you might be experiencing in your thumb, what we call blackberry thumb. This also used to be referred to as Nintendo thumb. These over-use injuries come from extended use with a PDA or a joystick or any of your hand-held devices such as text messaging with your cell phone or the hand-held devices you use to play video games. What happens is the tendon becomes inflamed that helps to bend your thumb and also move it away from your hand just to keep it simple and so what you want to do is simply work to straighten out your thumb as best as you can.

    If you have got a really bad case often times, your thumb sticks and you have a hard time straightening it out, what we call a Trigger Finger. It can occur in your thumb as well. So in order to stretch that and to alleviate the discomfort, try to straighten out your thumb as much as possible and move it away from your hand. You can use one very simple piece of equipment, not even equipment. You will find it around your house and your office all the time. Simply take a rubber band, place it around your thumb and your other fingers. If you have a really loose rubber band you can simply try to double it up on one finger to give yourself a little bit more resistance and what you want to do is you start with the bend thumb and then press and straighten that thumb and move the thumb away from your hand. Hold for about five seconds then release and repeat again.

    If you really want to stretch you can use the rubber band to stretch as well and then simply hold the stretch 20-30 seconds. Now you don't have to hold your arm out like I am. You can let your arm rest on a table or just let your elbow rest in the opposite hand. So you will hold it 20-30 seconds or if you are simply doing repetitions or the exercise just hold it out for about three seconds and then release. You will repeat this stretch 3-5 times or if you are going to do repetitions you will do about ten or whichever amount of repetition you can tolerate and then release and switch to the other side. So again, for the other side you will probably have a hard time straightening out your thumb because you have spent so much time with it, bent with all that text messaging simply straighten out your thumb, try to hold that stretch to your tolerance.

    Then once you are able to you can use a rubber band to add some resistance. So, you place the rubber band around your outstretched fingers. Really get it right across the joint of your thumb and then straighten out your thumb and hold and then release and repeat again. If you want to perform a stretch simply hold it out for 20-30 seconds. Once again, to just to rest your shoulder and not place any additional strain on the shoulder, place your arm right on top of your desk or on top of a rolled towel or use your opposite hand to support the elbow and that's how you can alleviate strain from blackberry thumb or a Nintendo thumb. It's an overuse injury due to extended PDA use, blackberry use, joystick use, any of the hand-held game devices or from extended text messaging on your cell phone. So those are just a few ways that you can avoid workplace injuries and also alleviate the pain and discomfort that comes from poor posture alignment, poor ergonomic workstation design and just overuse and repetitive use injuries that you might be performing on a daily basis at work in your office or at your desk. Thank you for joining me today. I hope these exercises will be of benefit to you and allow you to stay properly aligned and well.