Healing Texting, Thumb and Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSI) with Solomon’s Seal: Part 2


Unlike my previous article, Healing Texting, Thumb and Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSI) with Solomon’s Seal: Part 1, this article looks more specifically at thumb issues, now being widely reported as a growing issue among texters, game players and computer users. I believe that if you understand the properties of your thumb, fingers, hand and wrist, you might better understand the potential healing effects Solomon’s Seal Tincture may offer in your convalescence.

Here is the key to understanding complications arising in your thumb as a result of texting or injuring it via a sport, avocation or occupation: For every pound of pressure that you push at the tip of your thumb, it is magnified at the base of your thumb, called the carpometacarpal joint (CMC).Basal Thumb Joint

It is estimated that people (especially teens) run a high risk of texting injuries if they text over 80 messages a day. This is about the equivalent of spending one hour a day only texting — repeatedly and rapidly tapping the thumb on a key pad. Add to this regular daily computer use and/or video games! That’s a lot of daily, sustained pressure at the tip of the thumb being magnified at the thumb’s base! (Note: there are other injuries associated with texting, as described in my article.)

Over time, repeated thumb use or injury can lead to problems: joint issues and nerve issues. In the most serious cases, excessive wear and tear and inflammation of the basal joint of the thumb can lead to osteoarthritis of the thumb. Thumb arthritis can cause hand pain, swelling, decreased strength and range of motion.

WHAT IS CMC?

Basal joint arthritis (commonly called CMC or thumb arthritis) occurs as a result of wear and tear on the joint at the base of the thumb — the carpometacarpal joint, CMC. (see Know Your Thumb, below for image). It is more likely to occur, and at a younger age, if you have fractured or injured your thumb. Or, as presently seen, over use of the thumb by excessive texting. Repeatedly gripping, twisting, or turning objects with the thumb and fingers may make the arthritis worse.

arthritis of thumbOsteoarthritis can develop at any age, but usually appears after the age of 45. It sometimes develops years later after a fracture involving the joint (often occurring in a sports injury). Although osteoarthritis may run in families, the medical community is reporting increasing diagnoses of CMC joint arthritis in young adults, as a result of texting. Arthritis of the basal joint of the thumb is common in women and rather less common in men. X-rays show it is present in about 25% of women over the age of 55, but many people with arthritis of this joint have no significant pain.

We are witnessing the emergence of a huge wave of thumb injuries associated with today’s mobile technology. Virgin Mobile, a UK mobile phone provider, revealed findings from a large national study on texting:

  • Over 100 million text messages are sent every single day in the UK alone
  • 3.8 million British mobile phone users suffer from text-related injuries
  • 38% of mobile phone users suffer from sore wrists and thumbs from texting
  • Visit www.practisesafetext.com for further information
  • On its U.K. website, Virgin Mobile offers a series of exercises, including a thumb stretch

It is important to state that chronic texters and computer/video game users are experiencing acute discomfort in their wrists, arms, shoulders, and neck, much of which may be associated with nerve damage.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF CMC?

Injuries happen because texting puts the thumb into a “non-neutral posture” – that is a cramped position in which the tendons that work the thumb are at an odd angle of pull. When you add frequency of movement to that, you will have injuries such as tendonitis of the thumb.

Research out of Cornell University indicates that some people can type as much as 40 words per minute just using their thumbs! The world record for fastest texting is held by a 21 year-old Utah college student. All this overuse points to an ergonomics nightmare: The thumb is the least stable joint in the body. The thumb works in combination with the fingers to grasp and to grip. But when the thumb is used in any kind of work to push or activate something, that’s a big no-no in terms of ergonomic design.

Early warning signs of overuse include fatigue. There’s a sense of the thumbs and the forearms being tired because the muscles that move the thumb are actually in the forearm. People wrongly think they have tennis elbow, but the fatigue that’s felt eventually changes to pain.

There may be swelling in that area known as the “anatomical snuff box” (a hollow seen on the thumbside of the back of the wrist where snuff used to be placed.) That is where people might notice swelling. Over time, if untreated, the tendons become inflamed and lose strength; gripping a pen or holding a mug can become difficult. Here’s some further symptoms:

  • Pain at the base of the thumb, aggravated by thumb use.
  • Tenderness if you press on the base of the thumb.
  • Difficulty with tasks such as opening jars, turning a key in the lock etc.
  • Stiffness of the thumb and some loss of ability to open the thumb away from the hand.
  • In advanced cases, there is a bump at the base of the thumb and the middle thumb joint may hyperextend, giving a zigzag appearance.
  • The most common symptom is pain in the lower part of the thumb. You may feel pain when you lift something with the thumb and fingers, unscrew a jar lid, or turn a door handle or a key. You may find yourself dropping things. Weather may also make the thumb hurt. The joint may swell, and with time the thumb may become stiff or deformed.
  • A physical examination can reveal abnormal range of motion in the CMC joint, swelling, and pain or tenderness at the base of the thumb. Crepitus (a grinding sound as the joint is moved) suggests the ends of the bones that form the joint are rubbing against each other.

    thumb arthritis

    Arthritic Thumb

KNOW YOUR THUMB

The universal joint at the base of the thumb, between the metacarpal and trapezium bones (the wrist bones), often becomes arthritic as people get older. It is osteoarthritis, which is loss of the smooth cartilage surface covering the ends of the bones in the joints. The cartilage becomes thin and rough, and the bone ends can rub together.

The basal joint is formed by one of the wrist bones (carpals) and the first (metacarpal) of the three bones in the thumb. This joint (carpometacarpal) allows the thumb to move and to pinch with the fingers. When arthritis occurs in the basal joint, it slowly destroys the joint.

ARTHRITIS DESTROYS THE JOINT

The ends of the bones are covered with cartilage. This covering acts like a cushion, allowing the bones to move smoothly. Arthritis destroys the cartilage. Then the bones rub against each other when you move your thumb. This causes the joint to become inflamed and painful. This makes pinching and grasping with the thumb and fingers painful. With time, the bone in the thumb may collapse. Then you can no longer straighten your thumb.



 

TREATMENT OPTIONS

1. Avoiding activities that cause pain, if possible.
2. Analgesic and/or anti-inflammatory medication. A pharmacist or your family doctor can advise.
3. Using a splint to support the thumb and wrist. Rigid splints (metal or plastic) are effective but make thumb use difficult. A flexible neoprene rubber support is more practicable.
4. Steroid injection improves pain in many cases, though the effect may wear off over time. The risks of injection are small, but it very occasionally causes some thinning or colour change in the skin at the site of injection. Improvement may occur within a few days of injection, but often takes several weeks to be effective. The injection can be repeated if needed.
5. Surgery is a last resort, as the symptoms often stabilise over the long term and can be controlled by the non-surgical treatments above. There are various operations that can be performed to treat this condition. These are listed below:

a. Osteotomy, which means cutting and realigning the metacarpal bone next to the arthritic joint.
b. Removal of the trapezium which is removal of the bone at the bottom of the thumb, which forms one surface of the arthritic joint, sometimes combined with reconstruction of the ligaments.
c. Fusion of the joint, so that it no longer moves. .
d. Joint replacement, as in a hip replacement.
e. Denervation, which means cutting small nerve branches that transmit pain from the arthritic joint.

Removal of the trapezium is the most commonly performed operation.

THE EFFECTIVENESS OF SOLOMON’S SEAL

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, including thumb-related injuries.

The belief is that Solomon’s Seal acts on the synovial glands, improving the production of synovial fluid and thus lubrication between cartilage-capped joints (knees, hips, shoulders, elbows, fingers, thumb, 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. 

The allantoin in Solomon’s Seal acts as an anti-inflammatory that is good for joints. 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.

SS TincturesOur 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, regular 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 information and available products, please visit our website: http://www.solomonsseal.net.

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7 thoughts on “Healing Texting, Thumb and Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSI) with Solomon’s Seal: Part 2

  1. Which solomon’s seal formula would be best for tendonitis of arm and elbow (due to Pilates, tennis and massage therapy (as work)? Thanks.

    • Thanks Alexandra, for your good question.

      Actually, the straight Solomon’s Seal Tincture is the best. Next, would be Formula #3.
      I would also recommend that you consider our Acute & Chronic Injury Salve, to rub on the affected area. The synergism of the herbs of the salve, both working from outer dermal layers and moving to deep tissues, accompanied by the tincture, is a very effective intervention.

      I would finally add a liniment to your regimen. Our liniment will be ready for sale within 2 weeks. Ours is a very therapeutic blend, unlike most found at stores. Any good liniment gives short-term relief, but most are too alcohol-based. Our liniment is primarily tinctured herbs that are carried to deep tissues and joints by a small amount of double-extracted Witch Hazel.

      Here is how your regimen might ideally work:
      1. Apply a therapeutic liniment to affected area (don’t worry if you don’t do this yet)
      2. Apply a deep tissue salve
      3. Take tincture in recommended doses, working up to what feels effective for you (you might experiment with larger doses after 7-10 days)
      4. Increase water intake
      5. Take any tincture for 6 days, then 1 day off, OR 10-14 days and 2-3 days off (this prevents the body from adapting solely to the tincture; it needs a day of flushing out/rest; you may discover noticeable improvement after that rest period)
      6. Decrease tissue-inflammatory foods, especially refined sugars, dairy, wheat, corn, caffeine, soft drinks, alcohol (sugars, dairy, wheat and soft drinks especially!)
      7. Try to convalesce, as best as possible, your affected area

      Thank you for your question. I will soon be writing a more detailed article about elbow tendonitis for the blog.

      Health blessings,
      Forrest

  2. hi Forrest, Im experiencing alot of pain in my right thumb, wrists and forarms. Ive been a hairstylist ffor 30 yrs. and Im a bass player. I text alot and I think Ill put a stop to that after reading your articles! I cant stand the thought of giving up my passions because of pain. Can you please give me guidance on what might help me. I wear a thumb/wrist brace on my r. hand. When I play the bass I rest my thumb on the pickup and Im getting extreme pain towards the end of our 3rd set of music. I occassionally experience what feels like the tendin pops and it burns in my forarm. It scares me to no end! I’m a very health consious 50 year old. Please let me know what you think will help. Thanks! June J

    • You already know this, June, but your lifestyle passions are not allowing you convalescence from your injuries. Your conditions, specifically, are classic Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI). I have a stylist friend who suffers like you from her occupation. She has found relief with Solomon’s Seal tincture, using our formulated salve and liniment as well. A brace is only meant for short-term use, not constant; so make sure you not wear it more often (which is a good time to apply salve or liniment).
      I also have personally helped numerous musicians, who like me at 63 years, suffer from RSI from practicing and performance. Two of my passions — music and gardening/working our land — created chronic injuries in my hands, fingers, wrists and arms. Now there is the beginning signs of arthritis. So, I am very aware of injuries in these areas.
      Your thumb issue is well known among musicians and string players. Most musicians cannot take enough time off to heal, but it is necessary. For example, I took over 7 months off this year from playing guitar (wow, I gained 2+ hours a day!). I focused on healing my hands, wrists and arms (tendons, ligaments, nerve sheaths, bursae, joints). I still engaged in physical work of gardening, building and maintenance, etc. necessary at our nature sanctuary. My regimen: Solomon’s Seal tincture (regular), frequent use of liniment and salve, a good therapeutic hand cream, frequent massaging, stretching and joint limbering/rotation of hand, wrists and arms, wrist supports when working, and rest. I also fine tuned my diet: very little processed sugar, wheat flour or dairy (I’m vegetarian and have a good dietstyle; and, greatly increased water intake.
      The verdict: my hands, wrists and arms feel almost entirely healed. I have begun guitar playing and performance again this past month with very little discomfort. My regimen of tincture, salves and liniment — every day, several times a day (more frequently with liniment) for numerous months helped a chronic condition. Even those initial signs of arthritis seem to have disappeared.
      Your need to heal is obviously offset my your occupation’s requirement to use your hands, wrists and fingers the way you do with repetitive motions. Add to that your instrumental passion. You are in one tough situation in terms of choosing an effective healing strategy, which almost universally points to the necessity of at least limiting your activities to some degree so that regeneration and healing is possible. Practicing “safe text” is a great start for your thumb and forearms. Curious question: were you having issues before bass playing or texting? At what point did it start coming on? A good strategy is to determine what specific activities and motions started compounding upon others; then pull back from those to allow more healing time.
      In my over 50 year span as a dedicated musician, performer and composer, I have had to deal with repetitive stress of my hands. I always found fastest healing by not playing for a number of months. When I began using herbal formulated interventions, and found success and increased speed of healing (including necessarily altering my playing and other physical activities), I found a way to help others. Researching these varying conditions thoroughly has helped me understand my body. Similarly, researching the healing properties of the plant world has helped in personal healing. But to help others with similar desires to stay engaged in life is a great joy!
      I wish you the very best of healing. Be patient, be regular with your natural interventions, adapt or fine tune other lifestyle components, increase water intake, find a balance between convalescence and activity, take breaks throughout the day from using your wrist supports (they are useful, but they can also suppress/restrict natural muscle, tendon and ligament movement, and blood flow. Over time the supportive tissues can actually loose tone from overuse of a support — their normal functions sort of turn things over to the support).
      I will never promise full recovery or healing. However, your conditions are perfect for considering the use of Solomon’ Seal. Consequently, you may find tolerable relief and optimal healing to a level for you specifically that works, and that allows full passionate engagement in life! Blessings of health, Forrest.

  3. Forrest,
    I recently had trigger finger surgery on my middle finger on my dominate hand. I am a hairdresser and love sports and gardening. What routine of Solomon Seal can you recommend ?

    • Thank you for being patient in my reply – Summer is in full bloom in our herb gardens!
      Trigger finger doesn’t have to be a permanent condition, and can be gently dealt with over time as it heals. People have reported success using just the regular SS tincture for this condition. Added to this would be using our deep penetrating Acute & Chronic Injury Salve and the Liniment (superior for keeping the joint area loose). We discuss this 1-2-3 Method on our website and in some of the Blog articles.
      Something to review are types of foods that may irritate the condition — processed sugars, wheat, caffeine, soda, alcohol, gluten, dairy — all of which actually extract needed micronutrients out of the tissues and joints (we call it “peeing your bones”). Additionally, increase water intake is key, especially when using tinctures. Blessings to your health.

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