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 Table of Contents 
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 1784-1785  

Smartphone-induced tendinitis: A case report

Division of Infectious Diseases, Kobe University Hospital, Kusunokicho 7-5-2, Chuoku, Kobe, Hyogo

Date of Web Publication31-May-2019

Correspondence Address:
Prof. Kentaro Iwata
Division of Infectious Diseases, Kobe University Hospital, Kusunokicho 7-5-2, Chuoku, Kobe, Hyogo

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jfmpc.jfmpc_230_19

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Repetitive manipulation of thumbs and fingers too much can cause de Quervain tenosynovitis. Some smartphones are becoming larger than their predecessors, with larger display, which might lead to more occurrence of tenosynovitis. A Japanese man in his 40s developed de Quervain tenosynovitis after buying a smartphone while using his thumb to handle it. Ceasing to use the thumb and using his right index finger while holding the phone eased his symptoms and he recovered without specific treatment. Health care providers should be aware of this phenomenon, particularly related to newly purchased smartphones.

Keywords: De Quervain tenosynovitis, smartphone

How to cite this article:
Iwata K. Smartphone-induced tendinitis: A case report. J Family Med Prim Care 2019;8:1784-5

How to cite this URL:
Iwata K. Smartphone-induced tendinitis: A case report. J Family Med Prim Care [serial online] 2019 [cited 2019 Oct 14];8:1784-5. Available from:

  Introduction Top

Repetitive manipulation of thumbs and fingers too much can cause de Quervain tenosynovitis. Few smartphones have larger body and display than most predecessors. I here report a case of de Quervain tenosynovitis developing in a patient who renewed his smartphone with using his thumb to handle it.

  Case Presentation Top

A Japanese man in his late 40s without significant medical history developed gradual onset right wrist pain. The pain was located on radial part of the wrist and worsened by extension, abduction, or adduction of his thumb. There was no pain as far as he did not move the wrist. There was no swelling or erythema on the lesion but had tenderness on palpating over the area where abductor pollicis longus and extensor pollicis brevis tendons were located. The pain was only on dorsal side of the wrist and there was no pain or tender on palmar side. By history taking and physical examination, the diagnosis of de Quervain tenosynovitis was made. He took no medication and simply waited for spontaneous improvement of the symptoms. However, symptoms persisted and he became not able to hold heavy substances because of the pain.

A week later, he became aware that his symptoms worsened after he started to use newly bought smartphone, which he obtained approximately 2 months prior to the onset of the symptoms. He held his new smartphone with his right hand and texted with thumb on the same hand. He previously used to use a different, which had much smaller body and display [Figure 1]a and [Figure 1]b.[1] Apparently, the tendinitis was caused by use of the newer model. after changing his habitual practice of holding his smartphone with his right hand, he started to hold his phone with his left hand, manipulating the display with his right index finger [Figure 1]c. Symptoms gradually improved over a few weeks and became free of symptoms.
Figure 1: (a) Use of new model of smartphone with one hand. (b) Use of old model of phone. (c) Use of new model with two hands

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  Discussion Top

Texting using smartphone is known to cause de Quervain tenosynovitis.[2],[3] One might not able to use his/her body suitable for novel gadgets and reports showed tendinitis caused by these gadget, such as Nintendo game Wii.[4]

Few of the newer models of smartphone have larger than its most predecessors, with larger display without home button.[1] This led to larger area to cover when one to manipulate it with a finger. Thumb, a shorter than other fingers, might not reach corners of wider display and it could lead to development of tenosynovitis.

The most effective treatment of this type of tendinitis is by altering the habit of using thumb to other fingers such as index finger.

In conclusion, use of large display smartphone in one hand can be a cause of tendinitis on the thumb. Physicians should be aware of the possibility of this phenomenon and should ask patients with wrist pain regarding the type and size of cellphone they use, as well as fingers/thumb they use for texting.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Apple iPhone X vs Apple iPhone 6-Phone specs comparison [Internet]. Phone Arena. [cited 2019 Mar 18]. Available from:, Apple-iPhone-6/phones/10414,8346.  Back to cited text no. 1
Ashurst JV, Turco DA, Lieb BE. Tenosynovitis caused by texting: an emerging disease. J Am Osteopath Assoc 2010;110:294-6.  Back to cited text no. 2
Williams IW, Kennedy BS. Texting tendinitis in a teenager. J Fam Pract 2011;60:66-7.  Back to cited text no. 3
Bonis J. Acute Wiiitis. N Engl J Med 2007;356:2431-2.  Back to cited text no. 4


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