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Washington Post: How to Avoid 'Smartphone Pinkie'

The Washington Post recently spoke with Cedars-Sinai hand surgeon Eugene Tsai, MD, about hand, wrist and elbow problems connected with overuse of handheld technology. These injuries include "smartphone pinkie," pain at the base of the little finger that can radiate through the hand.

To make smartphone use safer, Tsai recommended that users pay attention to how they hold their devices. A one-handed grip with the phone resting against the pinkie compresses nerves and causes muscle soreness. Repeatedly stretching the thumb across the screen can cause tendinitis and pain, and aggravate existing arthritis at the base of the thumb, Tsai told The Washington Post.

"Our thumbs just weren’t evolved to be doing this nonstop work for long periods of time," he said.

Tsai and other experts also warned against prolonged flexing of the elbow when holding the phone near the ear or face, and contortion of the neck when looking down at the phone or pinching it between the ear and shoulder. He recommended repositioning about every five minutes. Taking breaks and changing positions frequently can help prevent minor overuse symptoms, such as numbness or tingling, from becoming more serious problems.

"Five minutes passes very quickly when you’re using your phone, but it’s actually a long time keeping your hand in one position," he told The Washington Post.

Tsai said that symptoms that persist after you’ve stopped using your phone or changed positions could be a sign of "very severe nerve compression," and that any pain that doesn’t resolve quickly deserves medical attention.

Click here to read the complete article from The Washington Post.