Despite the lack of serious studies on the subject, an increasing number of experts are observing changes in their patient base
- The average age of patients with hand pathologies, including osteoarthritis, has decreased according to reports from doctors.
- They suspect that the rapid and excessive use of smartphones by some users is causing this trend.
- At present, there is no study that provides clear evidence of a cause-and-effect relationship.
There is growing concern among doctors that excessive use of smartphones may lead to crooked hands and osteoarthritis. Several doctors have reported a rise in cases of osteoarthritis of the thumbs among younger patients. Osteoarthritis is a condition that affects the joints and is characterized by chronic pain, mechanical problems, and difficulty in performing certain movements of the affected joint.
As time passes, the cartilage surface can crack and ultimately erode, leading the body to produce bony growths that restrict joint movement and exacerbate pain. Osteoarthritis at the base of the thumb is called rhizarthrosis, and it can progress to joint deformities that result in hooked hands.
Your smartphone can push your thumb joint over the edge
Initially, patients with osteoarthritis experience minor pain and restricted movement, but as the condition progresses, it becomes a significant obstacle to daily functioning and can eventually become a real disability. Various treatments are available, such as immobilization during the night or corticosteroid injections, which are effective in 90% of cases depending on the situation.
The disease, which was first characterized by French rheumatologist and internist Jacques Forestier in 1937, is not new. However, in the past decade, the age of affected patients has been decreasing. Doctors suspect a causal link between the increase in this joint disease among younger audiences and the prolonged use of smartphones to write comments/messages, as the most addicted people are forced to constantly perform unnatural movements with their thumbs.
Rheumatologists and surgeons are no strangers to the idea of smartphones causing hand deformities, with articles on the topic dating as far back as 2016. What puzzles them is the lack of a comprehensive study on the matter, despite the suspicion being well-founded.
Dr. Aurélien Aumar, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in hand, has confirmed an increase in this type of condition. According to a 20minutes article, he stated:
“We used to say that this disease mainly affected women over 55 years old. Today, 15 to 20% of patients are men over the age of 45.”
While setting up a study on this subject is feasible, proving a strong connection between smartphone use and the disease would require a significant amount of time, as per Dr. Aumar. He estimates 30 years of monitoring a sample of 1,000 people in the 16-26 age group.
In the meantime, the surgeon advises to decrease the use of smartphones and, more importantly, to opt for a device with a size that is better suited to one’s hand.