Are smartphones really wrecking our fingers?

Something called “smartphone pinky” has Twitter users freaking out and collectively posting a ton of pictures. Unfortunately… smartphone pinky is just another sign that our technology isn’t doing our health any favors.


The smartphone pinky scare began when Japanese mobile phone provider NTT Docomo began to insist that our smartphones are altering our pinkies. Specifically, the company posted a photo showing that the weight of our phones can bend our littlest fingers, since many of us tend to hold our iPhones and such with our pinky on the bottom. This is the snapshot they included:

As you can imagine, the above image did not go unnoticed. Now Twitter users are posting pics of their wonky pinky fingers and comparing/contrasting their apparent injuries:

And about 7 months ago, writer and Internet personality Kelly Oxford shared the phenomena on Instagram (the post got over 1k shares).

 According to Chartered Physiotherapist and Registered Osteopath Tim Allardyce, smartphone use can potentially affect our fingers. “Regular use of phones, especially using the phone for text messages or to type emails, can cause repetitive movements of the thumb and fingers, with the thumbs being most over-used,” he told MailOnline.

“In the short term, this can cause hypermobility of the small joints around the fingers and thumbs as the ligaments can be come slightly stretched.” Allardyce adds, “Longer term, over a period of decades, overuse of the fingers and thumbs can cause osteo-arthritis as the cartilage degenerates between the joints. When the fingers become arthritic, they tend to form excess bone around the joints which can enlarge and deform the fingers and thumb joints.”

Essentially, the physiotherapist/osteopath doesn’t confirm that smartphone pinky is a thing, but he does say that alternative factors may also be involved. Others agree. The chair of the Public Education Committee for the American Society for Surgery of the Hand, Rachael Rohde, told Popular Science, “It would be pretty hard to deform any of your fingers just by holding a cell phone. As a hand surgeon, I think it’s more likely there’s something going on here to begin with, another condition, that they didn’t realize [they had] and thought it might be related to the phone.”

In other words, there are other reasons why our pinkies may be slightly curved. For example, there’s something called Clinodactyly, which is an inherited bent finger. There’s also Dupuytren’s contracture, a hand condition that usually develops over years when knots of tissue form underneath the skin, causing your fingers to take on a bent appearance.

So, as of right now, “smartphone pinky” isn’t a thing. But excessive smartphone use is, so definitely be careful of how much you use your phone (and of how you use it) because our hands and fingers deserve a break every now and again.

(Images via Kripke Enterprises/Giphy; Twitter)

Filed Under