Health care professionals have warned regarding the grave consequences of excessive smartphone usage. According to the data, the patients reporting neck, joint, and muscle ailments are at an all-time high. Smartphone-related injuries have gone viral over recent years. The smartphone pinky is the most common amongst them.
Orthopaedic surgeon Peter J. Evans, MD, PhD, says, “Constant cellphone use can cause a range of joint problems. While some claims of injury might be overstated, others are real and involve serious, long-term damage.”
Injuries Associated With Smartphone Usage
A study reported that bending the head, neck, and shoulders over cell phones and handheld devices, along with distorted neck positioning when sitting, studying, and watching television, can lead to incrementally increased stresses in the cervical spine area.
The positions and movements caused by these devices cause undue damage and strain to the muscles and joints that aren’t used to staying in that position for a long time.
Take a look at some of the common smartphone-associated injuries.
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Forward Head Posture
Poor head posture, also known as ‘Text Neck’, has become one of the major problems with people extending their necks beyond their shoulders for texting. The increased muscle tension increases the chances of nerve pinching and slipping the disk. People holding these positions for a long time will eventually see their posture degenerating with a curvature of the neck bending over time.
Texting Thumb Injuries
Synovium is the tissue surrounding the tendons. Studies have linked tenosynovitis of the thumb, called De Quervain’s tenosynovitis, to frequent smartphone use. Phone use could also worsen symptoms among people who already have arthritis.
Tendons are strong bands of tissue that form the scaffolding for the muscles and bones. The tendons travel from the forearm across the wrist to the thumb. The tendons pass through a narrow tunnel that helps keep them in place, ending at the base of the thumb. The repetitive motion injury due to texting can lead to increased strain in the tendons which can worsen over time.
While the so-called smartphone pinkie isn’t an established condition, it’s possible that using your pinkie to hold the weight of your phone could cause problems over time. It is characterized by a widening gap between the ring and the pinky finger. The online images of smartphone pinky show a variation in anatomy. However, this can be subjective and does not highlight a severe problem.
According to Dr. Evans, “It’s also possible that people who think they have smartphone pinky could have an underlying condition. Supporting your phone with your pinky could compress a nerve in your finger. Over time, you could experience pain, numbness or tingling.”
Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
Frequent phone use can also affect the nerves. When we hold our phones in front of us with our elbows bent, we compress the ulnar nerve, which runs from the neck to the hand. This constriction can cause numbness and weakness in the pinky and ring fingers. Over time bending your elbow causes traction and places pressure on your ulnar nerve at the cubital tunnel. Repeated elbow bending can cause long-term nerve damage. This condition can also mimic a smartphone pinky; hence if you are facing issues, the underlying problem might be due to your elbows.
How To Lessen The Strain
Downsizing to a small phone can solve most of the problems. Using the voice-to-text option to reduce the strain on fingers can also help the pain to dissipate quickly. Using phone grips and stands to reduce the pressure on your neck and hand joints can also aid in pain resolution.
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However, if you’re experiencing a lot of pain, it’s a good idea to see a physical therapist or a doctor, such as an orthopedist or a physical medicine specialist, as they can recommend treatments and stretches. The key is to catch these things early. They don’t tend to become chronic.
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