Can overusing your phone cause nerve damage?

Smartphones have become an indispensable part of our lives today. But could yours be causing you nerve damage?

However, recent studies suggest that excessive smartphone usage may be linked to numbness or tingling sensations in the fingers, signalling potential health concerns.

With a reported 51% of Americans aged 18 to 40 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. 

Ethan Bennet, founder of Sonin, provides his input on the importance of fostering a healthy relationship with technology and taking proactive steps to protect our physical wellbeing in the digital era.

What are the implications of phone overuse?

The ramifications of excessive phone usage, particularly in relation to the numbness or tingling sensation in fingers, highlight the broader health risks associated with excessive smartphone usage. Beyond physical discomfort, prolonged phone use can contribute to repetitive strain injuries and nerve compression. 

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. 

How can you spot the signs of nerve damage?

Identifying the indications of smartphone-induced nerve damage is crucial for early intervention and prevention of long-term complications. Symptoms such as numbness or tingling in the fingers, weakness in the hand, and difficulty gripping objects may indicate underlying conditions like cubital tunnel syndrome or carpal tunnel syndrome. 

Additionally, you may experience aching or cramping in the fingers and hand muscles, neck pain and stiffness, often referred to as ‘text neck’, and decreased sensation in the fingers and hands. 

When should you seek medical attention for nerve damage?

Knowing when to seek medical attention for symptoms of smartphone-induced nerve damage is essential for timely diagnosis and treatment. Persistent symptoms warrant immediate evaluation by a healthcare professional because they may indicate carpal tunnel syndrome. If left untreated, carpal tunnel syndrome can lead to irreversible nerve damage. 

Additionally, if you’re experiencing symptoms of nerve damage,you should seek medical attention if your condition significantly impacts daily activities or quality of life. Early intervention is crucial for managing symptoms effectively and preventing further progression of nerve damage, highlighting the importance of seeking prompt medical care when experiencing persistent or concerning symptoms.

Four tips to help reduce phone-related nerve damage

To mitigate the risk of smartphone-induced nerve damage and promote overall hand health, implementing practical tips and strategies can be highly beneficial. 

1) 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 5 minutes to several hours. As long as you’re letting go of your phone from your hand, you are helping your fingers and nerves.

2) Watch your posture

Maintaining proper posture while using smartphones, such as holding the device at eye level to reduce strain on the neck and shoulders, can help alleviate discomfort. 

3) 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. 

4) Research accessories

Investing in ergonomic accessories such as phone stands or ergonomic keyboards can help optimise hand and wrist positioning, reducing the risk of strain and discomfort associated with prolonged smartphone use. Highlight the potential link between excessive smartphone usage and numbness or tingling sensation in fingers. 

Enjoy a healthy relationship with technology

Understanding the implications of smartphone overuse on hand health is essential for maintaining overall well-being in the digital age. 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.

Sonin is a UK-based agency that has specialised in mobile-first solutions since 2009. Their approach emphasises understanding clients’ needs, close collaboration, and staying ahead with emerging technologies.

With a diverse team passionate about technology and user-centric products, Sonin focuses on building valuable, high-quality experiences for their clients.

Photo by Samantha Gades