In the past decade or so, there has been an incredible rise in the number of users of smartphones. This has caused a paradigm shift in the way the world communicates with each other. Social media, e-mails, texts messages, and phone banking are some of the uses that has caused this generation hooked on to their phones.
With this there is a rise in the number of users complaining about developing a deformity in their little finger or also known as ‘pinky finger’.
A Japanese telecom provider had released a series of photos on twitter indicating what would happen if the little finger was used to managed and balance the weight of the phone, for prolonged hours, every single day. Social media was then bombarded as thousands of pictures appearing online, of mobile phone users complaining about the same circumstances.
The regular use of phones, especially the one with bigger and wider screens to type messages or e-mails causes the thumb and the other fingers to be over-used, through repetitive movements. Short term, this causes hypermobility of the smaller joints around the fingers; the ligaments of the thumb gradually become slightly stressed.
Looking at this long term, over-use of the fingers causing stress in a repetitive manner can lead to osteoarthritis, as the cartilage between the joints begins to degenerate. When arthritis sets in in the fingers, there is a possibility of excess bone formation around the joints, which can then lead to enlargement or deformation of the finger.
Although this isn’t extremely damaging to one’s health, here are other factors in play that would influence the rates of degenerative change on joints such as – diet, family history and underlying health condition. Here are some tips to avoid the ‘Smartphone Pinky’:
- Switch hands at periodic intervals
- Limit texting to short messages. For a long message, use voice-to-text, or go old school, a phone call is actually a lot easier
- Use the swipe feature, allowing you to slide to letters rather than type
- Take a break and put down your phone, before your hand starts hurting
- Break up texting or gaming into shorter sessions
- Stretch your fingers, wrist and forearms at periodic intervals
- If your hand is hurting, take an over-the-counter pain reliever to reduce swelling and inflammation
- Place the phone on a table or counter to text using both hands.
Larger phones are most likely better for the fingers because the fingers have more space to spread out. But, the catch is that the larger devices are heavier, so your hand has to support the extra weight and could cause smartphone pinky. Be wise, moderate phone usage to bring down the stress on the joints and tendons of the hands. Be it the perfect selfie or response to an email, grip your phone appropriately, don’t stress out your pinky.
The author is a senior joint replacement surgeon at Fortis Hospital, Mulund.