Technology as a Christmas present: Overuse of smartphones puts the hands at risk

High tech gifts are among the most popular presents to give friends and family members during the holidays. Surely technology opens up an amazing world of learning and productivity; however, there are clearly dangers and concerns surrounding the use of these tools. For example, technology can cause harm to the hands.

Mobile phone overuseProlonged use of smartphones, keyboards and computer mouse can damage the functionality of the hands. Dr. Alberto Lazzerini, Director of the Hand Surgery Unit at Humanitas hospital, provides some insight on this topic:

“The prolonged and excessive use of mobile phones, video games, keyboard and the computer mouse may cause a variety of damage to the hands that may be difficult to resolve. The result – explains Dr. Lazzerini – is an overload on the tendons and muscles. This is turn causes an increase in chronic tendonitis or other disorders associated with improper and rather painful hand gestures. The thumb tends to suffer the most because it is more involved in repetitive movements. Damage caused by an excess use of technology may even require surgery. Sometimes the overload helps to bring out latent problems that may require a delicate surgery.”

What should be done in cases where technology has already caused damage to the hands?

Dr. Alberto Lazzerini, Director of the Hand Surgery Unit in HumanitasIn cases of chronic tendonitis, treatment involves use of anti-inflammatory drugs, physical therapy and plenty of rest. If problems are associated with one’s job position, it is necessary to go about studying ergonomics. Ergonomics is the study of efficiency in the working environment. It is always recommended to sit properly at a desk in front of the computer. In order to prevent pain in the hands, placing the mouse “at hand” at the side of the keyboard is advised. This way, the wrist is held in a natural position and does not cause problems.”

What is recommended in order to prevent pain in the hands?

“If you are particularly interested in technology and you are used to spend hours and hours making repetitive movements with your hands and fingers, it is simply advised to take breaks. The tendons, ligaments, muscles and joints need to rest. Whether they are on the computer or enjoying playing a video game, the rule is always the same – do not exceed limitations” – concludes the specialist.

It will probably be years before individuals will truly start to understand the impact of technology and potential issues that can arise from it. In the meantime, monitoring use of high tech gadgets and educating individuals on how to use them wisely without overusing them is the best approach. The risk of these new technologies is that early studies do not show any harm from repeated use but the damage may appear later on.


Humanitas is a highly specialized Hospital, Research and Teaching Center. Built around centers for the prevention and treatment of cancer, cardiovascular, neurological and orthopedic disease – together with an Ophthalmic Center and a Fertility Center – Humanitas also operates a highly specialised Emergency Department.