Beware the Dangers of Smartphone Finger

March 14, 2021

With all new innovations comes the threat of new health issues; owning a smartphone is no exception. Although many people talk about the negative effects of too much screen time, it’s not the only affliction frequent users can experience. Smartphone finger and smartphone thumb are other challenges to watch out for.

According to the Pew Research Center, 81 percent of Americans own smartphones; many of us use them all day long to stay in touch with friends, family members, coworkers and clients. We email, call people, text, read the news, scroll through social media, snap pictures and record videos. This can cause inflammation in the fingers and thumb called tendinitis. It’s also called smartphone finger, smartphone thumb, gamer’s thumb or texting tendinitis. 

Smartphone finger is basically the result of repetitive movements that can tire out the tendons, leading to soreness and inflammation. If you use your pinky to hold your phone still as you text or scroll, you can also cause tendinitis in the pinky joint.

Not sure if you’re experiencing smartphone finger? If you have difficulty moving your fingers when you wake up in the morning, experience numbness in your fingertip, hear a clicking sound when you move the finger or thumb, or feel pain or stiffness at the base of any of your fingers or thumb, you may have smartphone finger.

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, there are several ways to treat your aching digits at home. First and perhaps most importantly, try to spend less time on your phone. Start by taking a full day off, then work up to multiple days if you can. If it’s possible, switch to doing the tasks you do on your phone on your computer, where you can use a full keyboard. You can also apply heat or ice (or alternate) to the affected joint; take an over the counter pain reliever or use a brace to provide additional stability.