Hand injuries are a common product of gaming, whether you do it on a console or your smartphone. Learn how to keep your hands safe.
Americans are gaming more than ever today, whether on their train ride home or in the comfort of their living room. In fact, two-thirds of the US population self-identifies as “gamers,” up from 58% in 2013.
Gaming’s rising popularity shows no signs of turning around, which makes it likely that the number of gaming-related injuries will similarly grow in the coming years. Luckily, awareness of the dangers posed by gaming — especially those that directly impact your hands — can help you stay safe.
Who Is At Risk
Nowadays, the term “gaming” covers far more ground than many people realize. In fact, you may technically be a gamer without even realizing it. While people often associate gaming with console-based video games, the term actually refers to any kind of device-based gameplay. That means anyone who plays games on a mobile device or a computer is technically considered a gamer, just like someone who devotes dozens of hours each week to playing video games competitively.
Unfortunately, this means that many of the health risks associated with serious gaming are present for the more casual digital game-player. No matter how frequently or infrequently you play video games, you could be at risk of developing hand injuries if you aren’t taking necessary precautions.
Types of Gaming Injuries
Given how integral fast-paced hand movements often are to game play, it is no surprise that hand injuries are particularly common among gamers. According to a study in the British Journal of Medicine, more than a third of eSports athletes report experiencing wrist and hand pain.
These injuries, which notably include tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and de Quervain’s tenosynovitis (colloquially called “gamer’s thumb”), are almost entirely due to repetitive motions in the hand, wrist, and fingers. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing these hand injuries.
Preventing Common Hand Injuries While Gaming
Gamer’s thumb is one of the most common hand injuries that occurs during gaming. It develops when the tendons that move your thumb become inflamed, resulting in limited thumb movement. It can be caused by standard smartphone use as well as from gaming. The best way to prevent gamer’s thumb is by taking time to stretch your thumb and hand before you begin playing and during any breaks from gameplay. This stretching can help you rest the tendons in your hand and reduce the risk of inflammation.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is another common gaming injury. It occurs when a nerve in your wrist gets pinched, causing pain in your hand or wrist as well as numbness, tingling, or weakness. Like with gamer’s thumb prevention, the best thing you can do to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome is stretch your hand before and during game play. In particular, stretches that engage your thumbs, fists, and palms can help reduce your risk.
Unfortunately, even the best prevention methods are far from foolproof. If you experience hand injuries from gaming, or due to any other cause, you can find relief at the Florida Hand Center. Don’t let your hand pain get in the way of your daily life. Our specialists are ready to work with you to find relief fast.