As an orthopedic surgeon, I spend a good deal of time assisting patients with pain in the hand and wrist. Some of these cases arise from sports injuries, but many more occur as a result of daily overuse, leading to repetitive stress. All well-known conditions with reliable paths to recovery.
But now a brand-new condition is making the rounds on social media this month: “smartphone pinky.” Predicated on the notion that balancing a phone on your pinky is harmful over the long term, this supposed disfigurement inspired a storm of media attention.
Alas, it’s probably all an urban legend. As one surgeon put it:
“It would be pretty hard to deform any of your fingers just by holding a cell phone,” she says adding that it would probably take many years of gripping a phone really hard to make any noticeable change. “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.”
Needless to say, we have plenty of actual work-related injuries to worry about before we start spilling ink on an invented pinkie ailment.