Smartphone Pinky: How the overuse of mobile phones can cause finger deformity

Hayley Kenny

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For most of us, smartphones are an inescapable part of daily life. Sure they may be convenient but the spread of mobile phones has brought with it a slew of ailments caused by overuse. You’ve probably already heard of ‘text claw,’ which is the cramping pain you get in your wrists, forearms and fingers from the overuse of phones. You may also have heard of ‘blackberry thumb,’ a strain in the hand that is developed from constant texting.

Holding an iPhone - Photo credit: Adam Fagen (flickr)
Holding an iPhone – Photo credit: Adam Fagen (flickr)

In addition to these ailments, ‘smartphone pinky,’ a temporary pain and deformity of the pinky finger has been discovered. This complaint is developed from, you guessed it, excessive smartphone use. The definition of smartphone pinky according to Urban Dictionary can be described as “when your pinky gets permanently deformed and painful from supporting the weight of your heavy ass smartphone.

If you’re reading this on your phone now, have a look at where your pinky is. Chances are you have your pinky finger under the phone for support. If you do, you may want to adjust the way you’re holding your mobile device from now on.

NTT DoCoMo, the largest Japanese cell phone provider, recently released a warning to users via Twitter, reminding them of the side effects of the overuse of smartphones, and urging them take frequent breaks and change the way they hold their phones. DoCoMo also tweeted a photo showing the harmful effects of overusing smartphones if you depend too much on your little finger to support the weight of your phone – something many of us unconsciously do.

When translated on Google Translate, the tweet reads: “[Finger is deformed ! ? ] … Also depending on how to hold the smartphone to become “text thumb injury”. So that it is not too much a burden on a particular finger, but please take the time to time how to hold a change or break.” It seems the telecom company is suggesting that holding the smartphone causes the finger deformity.

When you hold a heavy smartphone in your hand, it rests and presses on the inside of your pinky, a vulnerable spot for pain to develop. Not only can holding your phone this way cause soreness from the weight of your phone, it can also result in an indentation between the first and second joints of your little finger, which we now know to be smartphone pinky.

So what should you do to treat this finger deformity? Take frequent breaks from using your smartphone and try not to depend on your pinky finger to support the weight of the phone. When it comes to texting, putting your phone down on a hard surface might help, or else hold the phone in one hand and text with the other.

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Hayley Kenny