Esports is a growth industry. Top gamers can earn millions per year. Some universities now offer scholarships for gamers who join esports teams. You might think there’s little chance of injury since you’re sitting down playing a video game. However, esports players are subject to several hand and wrist injuries.
The orthopedic experts at Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow are the specialists you want to see if you develop hand and/or wrist pain from gaming. Our board-certified orthopedic hand surgeons provide expert care as well as educate you on preventive measures to ward off future problems.
What kinds of hand and wrist injuries can esports cause?
The same motions repeated over and over again over a long period of time can cause a physical injury. Baseball players are prone to shoulder injuries; basketball players get jumper’s knee. Esports players are at risk of hand and wrist injuries from repetitive motions using the thumbs and/or fingers and wrists. Following are the most common types of hand and wrist injuries in esports players.
De Quervain’s syndrome
De Quervain’s syndrome, or tenosynovitis, means the tendons in the wrist and lower part of your thumb are inflamed. If you play an esports game that requires constant use of your thumbs such as Nintendo, XBox, or PlayStation, you’re at risk of this injury.
Your tendons glide through a sheath of tissue as you move your thumbs and wrist. Overuse of the tendons causes them to become inflamed and swell. Then they can’t glide back and forth normally. It becomes painful to play your esport when you have this overuse injury.
It’s important to seek medical treatment when you’re in pain. You probably have difficulty using your thumb to grasp an object.
Carpal tunnel syndrome
This injury stems from nerve compression. Your median nerve, running down your arm, moves through a small opening in your wrist, the carpal tunnel, and ends in your hand. The nerve is responsible for sensation and movement in your thumb and your first three fingers.
Repetitive motions can irritate your median nerve and make it difficult for it to move through the carpal tunnel. You may have a painful, burning feeling in your thumb and fingers, and you may develop weakness in the hand so that it’s difficult to grasp an object.
Gamers who clutch a mouse and those who use a keyboard much of the day are at increased risk for carpal tunnel syndrome.
Wrist strain/gamer’s wrist
Is your wrist sore? If you play esports and experience pain or numbness when moving your wrist, you’ve got what’s commonly called gamer’s wrist, a type of wrist strain. If you use a video game console or a keyboard and play your esport for hours at a time, you’re at risk for this injury. The repetitive motions and overuse of your wrist muscles and tendons cause disabling inflammation.
Treatment for hand and wrist injuries caused by esports
Don’t wait to get treatment if you have hand or wrist pain caused by gaming. The injury won’t get better on its own. Your Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow orthopedic surgeon can give you a steroid injection if your pain is severe at your appointment. Your doctor can also prescribe a strong pain reliever for temporary use until your inflammation recedes.
You’ll need to take a break from gaming to allow your injured tendons and muscles to heal. Your treatment may include a splint or brace to support your hand and wrist and help keep them in a resting position. Once the acute inflammation subsides, your doctor shows you gentle exercises and stretches for your hand, wrist, and fingers that help to strengthen your muscles. You need to build these into your daily routine to help protect against future gaming injuries. Your doctor also provides guidance on other ways to help protect yourself against further injury, including warmups before gaming, improving ergonomics, and taking breaks between sessions.
In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to release the constricting band of tissue in De Quervain’s syndrome and to release the tissue compressing the median nerve in case of carpal tunnel.
Call Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow or book an appointment online today for expert diagnosis and treatment of your hand or wrist pain.