Blackberry thumb is an irritation of the opponsnes & adductor pollicis muscles and tendons at through the large pad at the base of the thumb. It is a rapidly growing condition as more people use thumb-operated gadgets such as Blackberries, iPhones, Nintendo, X-Box and PS Gaming systems.
Symptoms of Blackberry thumb
- Pain: At the base of the thumb which may continue even when the thumb is not being used
- Ache: In the thumb web space or base of thumb joint
- Muscle tension: In the web space between the thumb and index finger
What causes Blackberry thumb?
The muscles and tendons of the thumb are quite strong but are not designed for the type of intense-repetitive activity associated with many of today's handheld communication devices. Muscle fatigue, excessive muscle tension & repetitive mis-use can cause pain, irritation & inflammation of the muscles & tendons resulting in pain with use and when the condition worsens, pain at rest. Basically, this condition is a tendonitis. If not corrected and resolved, it can turn into a long term chronic tendonosis.
What can I do about it?
- Rest: Stop doing what makes it hurt. This important phase allows the body to start healing.
- Ice: Applying an ice compresses helps to reduce inflammation, reduces the hypersensitivity of the associated nerves causing a reduction in pain. When applying ice, always apply a thin towel layer like a handkerchief on the skin first to protect the skin from an ice burn. In this area, 10-12 minutes of ice, 2-4 times per day should suffice, however check with your DC, MD, DO, ATC or PT for your specific needs.
- Gentle stretching and massage: Reducing muscle tension will improve flexibility and resolve the achy sensation. Less muscle tension means less force on the tendons and less chance of developing tendonitis.
- Balancing of muscle strength: Strengthening weak muscles and loosening tight muscles is crucial to achieving full recovery.
- Commitment: It will take repetitive applications over the course of several days or several weeks for this condition to resolve. The more you continue to use your blackberry, the longer it will take to resolve. If it doesn’t resolve, go se your local sports chiropractor, athletic trainer or musculoskeletal medicine specialist such as an orthopedist or physiatrist.
- CHRONIC CASES are best treated with a combination of the above along with Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization(IASTM).
Dr. Narson is a 2-term past president of the Florida Chiropractic Association’s Council on Sports Injuries, Physical Fitness & Rehabilitation and was honored as the recipient of the coveted Chiropractic Sports Physician of the Year Award in 1999-2000. He practices in Miami Beach, Florida at the Miami Beach Family & Sports Chiropractic Center; A Facility for Natural Sports Medicine.