These days it seems there's an app for everything, from reading to banking, we can do just about anything on our phones. So it's no wonder that many people are glued to their screens. If you are a little obsessed with your phone, have you ever stopped to think about the damage it could be causing you - and we aren't talking about your eyes.
Some social media users have recently claimed that the way they hold their phone has caused a deformity. Dubbed 'smartphone pinky' people are convinced that they have a dent or a bend in their little finger from the way they hold their phone. One concerned person took to Twitter, sharing a snap of their hand, writing: "I have an actual #iphone injury. My finger has bent and will not straighten. Need to change the way I hold my phone."
Another said: "My finger is bent because all I do is hold my phone all day." On TikTok, a user named @cllopez2000 explained: "Ok so I was just wondering if anyone else has this. If you hold your hand with your pinky on the bottom of your phone, you'll start to notice a little dent between the top and the bottom knuckles on your pinky. This is called smartphone pinky."
The video went viral, with many people saying they too had this - but is smartphone pinky a real thing? We asked a health expert to share their thoughts. LloydsPharmacy pharmacist Pareena Patel told MirrorOnline: "While there is no clinical evidence yet to suggest that smartphones can damage our pinkies specifically, nor is this an official medical condition or term, there are reasons to believe excessive phone use can impact our muscular function and may damage our joints particularly in the thumb and wrist area.
"For example, we know is that repetitive strain injury (RSI) is a common condition which affects the muscles and nerves if they are overused or subject to frequent repetitive movements. Therefore, rather than pinky finger, it is more likely that people who regularly use their smartphones may experience RSI. Some research has also found that smartphone overuse can cause pain in the thumb, and can even decrease hand function."
Pareena went on to suggest some ways to alleviate pain in your hand and reduce the risk of your phone causing aches or injuries:
1. Gentle Hand Exercises
The expert advises: "If you’re experiencing problems in your fingers, there are some gentle exercises you can do to help stretch your muscles and alleviate joint pain. One of these exercises includes a ‘finger curl’. "For this exercise you simply need to clench your hand into a fist, followed by gently releasing and stretching out the fingers. This can be repeated up to five times a day, with a rep’ of five each time.”
2. Alexander Technique
She continues: "There is a technique thought to help improve musculoskeletal problems, known as the Alexander Technique. While this is typically used for postural problems, some of the principles may help you with hand/finger aches, by helping you understand how your movements including phone use, affect all your body parts.
"This could also be something that helps you with ‘text neck’ too. The principles include having a more mindful approach to your daily activities while ensuring that they are benefiting, not harming you. This is alongside grasping the understanding that the relationship between your head, neck and spine is vital for optimum function within the body."
3. Switch Off
Pareena explains: "This is the most obvious, but detoxing your use of your smartphone may help reduce any pains your hands are experiencing. You should try and set time aside where you agree to not use your smartphone for a period, even if it’s just an hour. "Not only is this good for your physical health, but your mental health too. You could also try and place your phone flat on a surface ahead of using to avoid you having to grasp it with your hand and curl your fingers round."