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Do You Have a Smartphone Injury?

Author: Niki L. Carayannopoulos, DO

When it comes to smartphone injuries, you’re far less likely to get burned, shocked, or otherwise injured by the phone… than by how you handle the phone. As smartphones become increasingly integrated into our lives, we’re spending more time than ever on our devices – which means these phrases are starting to find a way into our vocabulary:

…smartphone pinky…

…smartphone thumb…

Sore Thumb from Your Smartphone?

Ten years ago we may have called this condition “texting thumb.” Now, however, we’re using our thumbs for so much more: from swiping through Instagram posts to playing games in the spare moments of our day. Symptoms of “smartphone thumb,” which may include pain, stiffness, and fatigue, can occur in anyone, but are most common among heavy phone users.

Any kind of repetitive motion, such as those involved in smartphone use, can result in fine tears in tendons and muscles. These tears may lead to pain and inflammation that never fully resolves without some time away from the phone! If you’re noticing fatigue, take a break. If you must, use different fingers. Or – even better – try voice-to-text options. You can also write longer responses to texts and emails on your computer, which may alleviate some of the finger fatigue.

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

Do you have numbness, tingling or a loss of sensation in your ring or pinky finger? It’s possible that you could be experiencing cubital tunnel syndrome, a collection of symptoms that develop when the elbow remains in a bent position for a prolonged period of time. Cubital tunnel syndrome can occur when the ulnar nerve becomes irritated or compressed; the ulnar nerve is what causes that jolting sensation you feel when you strike your “funny bone.”

Holding the phone up to your ear for hours a day can lead to cubital tunnel syndrome. The good news, though, is there’s a quick fix for this problem. Simply use the ear buds and microphone that likely came with your smartphone, or purchase a separate wireless Bluetooth earpiece to free up your hands. If your car has a Bluetooth connection and microphone, take advantage of that option for hands-free cell phone use while driving.

Smartphone Injury? See a Houston Orthopedic Doctor

For more information about “smartphone injuries,” see a Houston orthopedic physician near you for care. Schedule an appointment at Houston Institute for Sports Medicine & Orthopedics by calling (713) 756-5546. You can also schedule your appointment online.

Please consult with your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines.