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iPad/iPhone thumb

I have been increasingly seeing lots of patients present with a sore thumb and they have no idea how it happened. If you look closely into your lifestyle/ habits you should be able to pick out what's causing this pain. I would like to talk about De'quervain's Tenosynovitis in this blog.


Painful thumb

Pain opening jars/ taps

Holding an object such as a tablet or a phone

Burning/ popping sensation on the thumb side of the wrist

How does it happen

Tendons from the forearm passes into the wrist through a thin sheath called extensor retinaculum which holds all the tendons in place. The tendon is also lubricated by a layer of tissue called tenosynovium (hence the name De'Quervain's tenosynovitis). When the tendon itself or this sheath and the surrounding structures degenerate or gets aggravated by overuse you will start building up inflammation in the area becoming increasingly painful. Generally speaking De'Quervain's syndrome is considered to be an overuse injury.

Coming back to holding an iPad or an iPhone, a lot of people tend to use it for a prolonged period of time (couple of hours at a time sometimes) whether in a meeting or simply browsing the internet at home. What they are forgetting is that their poor thumb muscle is having to work hard to withstand the load for a long time putting a lot of stress on the structures mentioned above. Consequently you will start to develop these symptoms.


Localised electrotherapy (such as ultrasound)

Dry needling

RICE (Rest Ice Compress Elevate)

Soft tissue massage

Thumb splints

Education on hand positioning during activity

Stretches/ strengthening

At Physio Room Pymble our Physiotherapists can help you overcome your iPhone/iPad thumb. If the above sounds somewhat similar to what you are experiencing we can help you by correctly assessing, diagnosing and effectively treating the painful area. Call us at 8065 1970 for an appointment!

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