- Social-media users are posting photos of their pinkies with pronounced dents in them.
- They claim indentations are caused by holding their phones for hours on end.
- Doctors say it’s temporary and nothing to worry about, but warned excessive phone use can cause other health issues.
People who use their phones a lot are posting to social media concerned that they might have something they’ve dubbed “smartphone pinky.”
Twitter users are posting photos of indentations on their pinkies, claiming they come from holding their smartphones for years. Though “smartphone pinky” isn’t a medically recognized condition and isn’t anything to be alarmed about, people who use their phones frequently might be at risk of other phone-related medical conditions, doctors say.
“The dents are caused by the bottom of the cell phone resting on the little finger, which many people use as a support to hold the phone from sliding out of their hand,” Dr. Leon Benson, a hand surgeon at the Illinois Bone and Joint Institute and a professor at the University of Chicago, told Insider. “The cell phone itself isn’t heavy enough to stop blood flow or damage any nerves or tendons in the little finger.”
“Skin and the subcutaneous fat beneath our skin has some fluid content and is compressible — and similar to a gel pad or styrofoam, pressure in one spot will leave a temporary impression,” Benson said.
He also noted that the mark isn’t permanent and that there are no cell phones heavy enough to cause lasting, painful damage to your hand. It’s similar to a mark left on the wrist after wearing a watch or on the bridge of the nose for people who wear glasses.
“I would suggest, however, that if someone notices that they have an obvious
in their little finger, it probably is a good sign that they are holding their phone constantly and for a long time,” Benson said. “This is probably dangerous because it means that they are so engaged in their internet world that they are likely distracted from real life.”
Ruba Katrajian, an osteopathic physician, told Buzzfeed something similar, saying the dent people are seeing in their pinkies is caused by the pinky supporting the weight of their phones, but that the phenomenon isn’t causing any damage to your hands.
Other online have wondered if there is any impact to the joints between your ring and pinky finger. However, Dave Parsons, a fellow at Curtin University’s School of Occupational Therapy and Social Work, told The Sydney Morning Herald that it’s unlikely that people are permanently bending their fingers from phone use, adding that it would take six hours of pressure a day to impact joints.
“If someone was on their phone for more than six hours, it is plausible, but it is still pretty unlikely,” he told the Herald. “It can be cumulative over the day, but obviously longer sustained periods would increase the susceptibility.”
Most importantly, there are other conditions stemming from excessive phone use that people should be more worried about. One is “texting thumb,” which is soreness from repetitive phone use. Trigger finger — where a finger gets stuck in one place — and sore wrists are other common conditions associated with smartphone use that can be addressed by doctors, according to Buzzfeed.
Switching hands and using a Pop Socket can help head off phone-related aches and pains. But the real solution, according to Benson, is to just spend less time on your phone.
“Holding a cell phone for hours is only dangerous because it means that the person probably has no life. Judgement call,” Benson said. “Regardless, the little finger will be OK.”