Date
23 October 2017
A typical smartphone user taps on the device more than 30,000 times a day. Muscle fatigue is more common among those who like to play online games while on the go. Photo: Reuters
A typical smartphone user taps on the device more than 30,000 times a day. Muscle fatigue is more common among those who like to play online games while on the go. Photo: Reuters

Using smartphone too much could give rise to ‘trigger finger’

In this digital era, many people can hardly put down their smartphone or tablet, finding themselves devoting huge chunks of their time to texting, browsing through social media or playing mobile games.

Did you know that prolonged and repetitive finger motions, which is what you do when you constantly use your smartphone, might lead to tenosynovitis? 

This disorder is nicknamed “trigger finger” because the patient find it hard to bend or straighten the affected finger, and if they do, some painful clicks occur.

It results from the swelling or inflammation of the fluid-filled sheath, known as synovium, that surrounds a tendon of the affected finger.

Trigger finger usually results when you bend your fingers constantly or lift heavy objects by hand over a long period of time.

People with certain health conditions such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis or thyroid problems are more likely to develop this problem as well.

Trigger finger usually occurs in the thumb, middle finger and ring finger. It is also possible that several fingers are afflicted at the same time.

For treatment, a patient is prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs and given physiotherapy sessions to relieve the pain. Rest and ice application also help reduce the swelling.

If these simple treatments prove ineffective, a doctor may apply corticosteroid injections.

In certain cases, a surgery may be recommended. This involves the cutting of the affected section of the tendon sheath. This method is quite effective; if done successfully, it is rare for the problem to recur.

After the operation, the patient will have to attend physiotherapy or occupational therapy sessions to restore the functions of the hand.

To guard against trigger finger, one should do exercises that involve stretching and strengthening hand and arm muscles.

You must take regular breaks to relax your wrists and fingers. Avoid prolonged repetitive moves, maintain the right posture and use suitable tools whenever available to help prevent injuries.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on April 21

Translation by John Chui

[Chinese version 中文版]

– Contact us at [email protected]

JC/FC/CG

Fellow of the Hong Kong Academy of Medicine (Orthopaedic Surgery)

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