Expert warns of smartphone damage warning to 'seek medical attention' if you spot these signs

It is crucial to recognise when to seek medical attention, the experts say
-Credit: (Image: Getty/Tim Robberts 2022)

In the modern digital era, smartphones have become an essential aspect of our daily lives.

According to experts at Sonin, recent research indicates that overuse of smartphones could be associated with numbness or tingling in the fingers. And this could signal underlying health issues.

With many people expressing concern over the effects of smartphones on their physical health, it’s vital to understand the impact phone overuse can have on your body. To help, Ethan Bennet, founder of Sonin, has shared insight into how we can take proactive steps to protect our physical well-being amidst the digital era.

Why is phone overuse bad for me?

The consequences of excessive phone usage, especially the numbness or tingling in fingers, underscore the wider health risks linked to overuse of smartphones. Apart from physical discomfort, extended use of phones can lead to repetitive strain injuries and nerve compression.

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Additionally, habitual phone use can exacerbate existing musculoskeletal issues, such as neck and back pain, while also impacting mental well-being through increased stress and disrupted sleep patterns.

What signs do I need to look out for?

Symptoms include numbness or tingling in the fingers
Symptoms include numbness or tingling in the fingers -Credit:Getty

Identifying the indications of smartphone-induced nerve damage is crucial for early intervention and prevention of long-term complications.

Symptoms include:

  • Numbness or tingling in the fingers

  • Weakness in the hand

  • Difficulty gripping objects - this may indicate underlying conditions like cubital tunnel syndrome or carpal tunnel syndrome

  • Aching or cramping in the fingers and hand muscles

  • Neck pain and stiffness - this often referred to as ‘text neck’, and decreased sensation in the fingers and hands

When should I seek medical attention?

It is crucial to recognise when to seek medical attention for symptoms indicative of nerve damage caused by smartphone use.

Timely medical evaluation is necessary for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment, the experts warn, adding that persistent symptoms should prompt an immediate consultation with your GP. This is because it could mean you have carpal tunnel syndrome, which, without treatment, can result in permanent nerve damage.

They add that if you’re experiencing symptoms of nerve damage, you should seek medical attention if your condition significantly impacts daily activities or quality of life.

What can I do to help prevent damage when using my phone?

To reduce the risk of nerve damage caused by smartphones and to enhance overall hand health, it is highly beneficial to implement practical tips and strategies.

Take Phone Breaks

Prioritise taking regular breaks from smartphone use to allow your hands and wrists to rest and recover. Breaks can be anywhere from five minutes to several hours. As long as you’re letting go of your phone from your hand, you are helping your fingers and nerves.

Watch Your Posture

Maintaining a good posture while using smartphones is key. For example, try holding the device at eye level to reduce strain on the neck and shoulders as this can help alleviate discomfort.

Stretch and Exercise

Incorporating stretching and strengthening exercises into daily routines can help improve flexibility and resilience in the hands and wrists, reducing the likelihood of injury. Simple exercises like wrist flexor and extensor stretches, finger extensions, and hand grips can promote circulation and alleviate tension.

Research Accessories

The experts conclude that you can try investing in ergonomic accessories such as phone stands or ergonomic keyboards to help optimise hand and wrist positioning, thus reducing the risk of strain and discomfort associated with prolonged smartphone use.

Ethan stresses "Prioritising our digital well-being is not just about reducing screen time; it's about fostering a healthy relationship with technology that supports our physical and mental health.”

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