The proliferation and use of PDAs (wireless personal digital assistants) such as Blackberries, and the significant increase in time spent at computer keyboards or engaging in video gaming has created a whole new generation of people of all ages experiencing hand and finger injury, pain and discomfort. More and more, people are depending on these devices to stay in touch with friends and family. However, an increasing number are beginning to pay the price for such ready access to the world.
Popularly called “Blackberry Thumb”, or “teen texting tendonitis,” this Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI) occurs because these devices rely almost solely on the use of your thumbs (not all of your fingers) for typing. Any device that relies on the thumbs for typing can cause this type of injury because the thumbs simply weren’t designed for such use. Additionally, there are also other stress injuries reported — wrist, forearm, shoulder, upper back and neck — as a result of constant texting.
It is estimated that teenagers sending and receiving an average of 80 text messages each day may be vulnerable to repetitive stress injuries of the thumb. As with “Blackberry Thumb”, compulsive texting can cause cramping, pain or numbness, no matter one’s age. Note: To better understand the role texting plays in a typical teens life (not to deny many adults as well), look at these statistics:
- Cells are selling: About 75 percent of 12-17 year-olds in America now own a cell phone.
- Non-verbal communication: Half of those teenagers send 50 or more text messages a day.
- Text time: One-third of teens send more than 100 text messages daily.
- Text tops talk: Two-thirds of texters say they are more likely to use their cell phones to text their friends rather than talk to them.
- The changing face of friendship: More than half – 54 percent – of teens say they text their friends at least once a day, but only 33 percent talk to friends face-to-face daily.
- The electric life: Americans between ages eight and 18 spend an average of seven and a half hours a day using an electronic device, be it a computer, smart phone, or television.
Margot Miller, president of the American Physical Therapy Association’s Occupational Health Special Interest Group, states: “Because the keyboard of the PDA is so small, and because the thumb, which is the least dexterous part of the hand, is overtaxed, the risk of injury just skyrockets.” Let’s look more closely at the effects sustained levels of texting have on the hands and thumb.
Symptoms of Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI) Related to PDAs
Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI) is a collective term for syndromes characterized by discomfort, impairment and loss of muscle strength and function. It is pain that comes from repetitive movement in a way that your body isn’t really designed to do. Some examples are:
- Bad posture while sitting at desk
- Repetitions in a sport, typing, on a cell phone, or other handheld and hand-manipulated device
- Long period spent doing the same movement
Tendonitis (including Blackberry Thumb) is inflammation or irritation of a tendon (fibrous chords that attach muscle to bone) usually caused by overuse or repetitive action. Symptoms of “Blackberry thumb” include pain and numbness in the thumbs and joints of the hand. But there are also other bodily symptoms:
- Pain and numbness at the base of the thumb
- Tingling and numbness in hand, including joints
- Pain in elbow
- Shoulder, neck pain during computer use
- Tired, achy fingers
Two Commons RSIs Affecting the Hand
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a condition where there is excessive pressure on the median nerve. This can be caused by swelling and/or thickening of the transverse carpal ligament, which forms the roof of the carpal tunnel located in the wrist. Overuse and repetitive motions can often cause symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome including pain, numbness or tingling in the thumb, index, middle and part of the ring finger.
De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis – De Quervain’s tenosynovitis is a repetitive strain injury that causes pain at the wrist and forearm just above the thumb. Repetitive hand and thumb motions can lead to inflammation which hampers the smooth gliding action of the tendons. Initially, symptoms may consist of soreness in the forearm near the thumb. If left untreated, pain may spread up the forearm or into the wrist and thumb.
A third outcome of an RSI may follow on its heals if treatment is not sought: Thumb (CMC Joint) Arthritis. This is the most common location for arthritis in the hand due to wear and tear using the thumb.
Note: For further detailed information about thumb injuries, and CMC Joint Arthritis, read Part 2 of this article on this Blog: Healing Texting, Thumb and Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSI) with Solomon’s Seal: Part 2
There is no cure for arthritis but there is treatment falling into three categories: no treatment, conservative, and surgery (last resort). Before surgery is considered, conservative treatment is attempted which is aimed at alleviating the symptoms of arthritis. This consists of use of a splint, possible anti-inflammatory medications, possible icing, physical therapy,and occasionally a cortisone injection which usually gives good but temporary relief. Another alternative is the use of Solomon’s Seal, as described later in this article.
Sensible Advice on Prevention of RSI Caused by Texting
You should always take measures to avoid any possible damage that might result from overstressing the hands, fingers or thumb. If you feel any pain or tingling, make some changes in your work, play and texting habits. The following tips are helpful:
- If texting starts to hurt. Stop. Use the other hand or call instead
- Vary the hand you use
- Vary the digits you use
- Don’t text for more than a few minutes without a break
Try these exercises. Obviously, stop if you feel any pain, otherwise you can do more harm than good.
In your texting hand:
Tap each finger with the thumb of the same hand. Repeat 5 times (5x)Pull your thumb firmly with the other hand. Repeat 5x
- Wrap an elastic band around the tips of fingers and thumb and open your hand against the resistance. Repeat 20x
- Palms down, wrap an elastic band around each thumb and force apart. Repeat 20x
- Tap the palm and back of your hand on your thigh as quickly as you can. Repeat 20x
- Massage thumb web, back of forearm and front of forearm. 2 minutes.
- Press and rub in a circular motion the painful nodules in those muscles. 30 seconds for each nodule.
- Reach up high with both arms and shake your hands. Reach down low with both arms and shake. Repeat 3x.
- Arms at 45 degrees squeeze them behind you.
- If it still hurts after a week of doing exercises wrap an ice pack on sore hand and arm parts. Do not put ice directly on the skin but wrap in a thin cloth or piece of kitchen roll. 10 minutes on, 10 minutes off. Repeat 3x
How Solomon’s Seal Aids in Healing Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSI)
Treatment of RSI is commonly focused on relieving pain (analgesic), lowering fever (antipyretic), and reducing inflammation (anti-inflammatory) of the affected area. Known as NSAIDs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), the most prominent members of this group of non-narcotic drugs are aspirin (pain relief), ibuprofen (fever reduction), and naproxen (anti-inflammatory) partly because they are available over-the-counter in many areas. Prescriptive drugs are also available as is the use of corticosteroids.
Unfortunately, aspirin and other NSAIDs have been found to cause damage to the lining (or mucosa) of the digestive tract primarily in the stomach and upper intestine. This damage can result in an ulcer or intestinal bleeding. Although this can happen to an individual who is an infrequent user of aspirin or NSAIDs, it is of a much greater concern in frequent users, and those consuming higher dosages of these medications.
There is a significant amount of observational information, from both medical practitioners and users, about the effects of Solomon’s Seal on many of the conditions associated with RSI. The plant has been used for thousands of years, and is one of the most important herbs used in Chinese medicine.
Effect on Synovial Fluid Between Joints
It is speculated that Solomon’s Seal stimulates the body to produce cortisone. A similar belief is that it acts on the synovial glands, improving the production of synovial fluid and thus lubrication between cartilage-capped joints (knees, hips, shoulders, elbows, fingers, etc). This synovial fluid is slippery and somewhat viscous (it’s been described as “egglike”), and provides the lubrication so that the ever- moving joints do so freely and don’t abrade or wear at each other. Solomon’s Seal appears to resolve the sensation of friction, grinding, or clicking in joints.
In addition to merely lubricating the joints, Solomon’s Seal softens the outer surface of the cartilage. The joint itself is held in place by tendons, which connect bones and muscles, and ligaments, that connect the bones to bones. Synovial joints exist interdependently with the muscles that surround them. Not only do the joints respond to the will of the muscles, the muscles are also responsive to the goings on in the joints. In any case, the plant possesses a mucilagenous quality that coats and lubricates enflamed tissues while reducing friction and irritation. Solomon’s Seal also helps restore pliancy to tendons and ligaments by supplying moisture to them if they are atrophied. It is specifically indicated for tendonitis and other repetitive motion injuries.
Effect on Inflammation
The allantoin in Solomon’s Seal acts as an anti-inflammatory that is good not only for joints but also for inflammations of the stomach and bowels. It soothes irritated or damaged tissues and reduces general inflammation. The mucilaginous qualities help to soothe and ease gastric irritation. The value of Solomon’s Seal cannot be underestimated in those instances where NSAIDs (specifically aspirin) damage the lining (or mucosa) of the digestive tract primarily in the stomach and upper intestine. This damage can result in an ulcer or intestinal bleeding.
Effect on Soft Connective Tissues
The fascinating observation about Solomon’s Seal’s effectiveness is that the quality of repair to injured tissue leaves little or no trace/evidence of scar tissue. The soft connective tissues surrounding muscles, tendons and ligaments that are damaged/injured often results in inflammation, swelling and edema. In the case of broken bones, for example, soft connective tissues may still be out of balance with the surrounding tissues of joints, even after surgery or restoration. These types of problems are usually the result of excessive out-of-balance tensions on the muscles, tendons, and ligaments. This causes unnatural pressures and therefore bony overgrowth into the joint spaces and surrounding tissues. Solomon’s Seal appears to “read” and correct these tension inbalances, thereby allowing the body to re-absorb the bone spurs.
Not only does Solomon’s Seal help to calcify and strengthen broken and normal bones, but it also decalcifies unhealthy deposits of Osteoarthritis in the joint spaces. For those with Thumb (CMC Joint) Arthritis, Solomon’s Seal may be of significant value.
Enhancing Solomon’s Seal’s Effectiveness with other Herbs
In our intense study and observation of Solomon’s Seal’s palliative effects on various conditions, we have been inspired to integrate its use with other esteemed healing herbs. In our Cortesia Solomon’s Seal Tincture, Formula #1 – Arthritis & Joint Repair, we have combined it with Gravel Root and Pleurisy Root. Gravel Root is specifically indicated for arthritis for it brings minerals into and out of solution, hence its use as a remedy to dissolve and remove deposits in joints. Pleurisy Root is indicated in cases of acute inflammation, arthritis, bursitis, lack of lubrication, or clicking in the joints.
Our Cortesia Solomon’s Seal Tincture, Formula #3 – Cartilage & Tissue Repair is integrated with the highly respected Horsetail plant. Horsetail’s high silica content helps to rebuild damaged cartilage and structures. It strengthens connective tissue, bones, cartilage, mucous membranes, arteries, skin, and other tissue.
Of course, Solomon’s Seal works to harmonize, feed, lubricate, and tighten or loosen (as needed) tendons, ligaments, attachments, and joints. It is also a valuable connective tissue anti-inflammatory, and is known to help moderate the symptoms of osteoarthritis. It has many other benefits described in other articles on our website and blog.
For further detailed information about thumb injuries, continue to read Part 2 on this Blog. Healing Texting, Thumb and Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSI) with Solomon’s Seal: Part 2
For further information and available products, please visit our website: http://www.solomonsseal.net.