Overuse injuries from the excessive use of video gaming consoles are a frequent complaint from patients who come to orthopedic doctors for care. Spines, hands, and especially thumbs can all be affected. The most common condition is a repetitive stress injury, sometimes informally referred to as Gamer’s Thumb. This inflammation of the tendons that connects the wrist to the thumb is technically known as De Quervain’s tendinosis. The condition can cause a decrease in grip strength, create a limited range of motion, and cause pain on the outside of the thumb by the wrist. Locking or clicking in the thumb can also be an indicator.

Additionally, the rapid, repetitive, forceful pounding can cause neck, arm, and spine pain. Often, poor posture contributes to the problem, by slouching for long periods of time during play. Although the fun of playing video games can be addictive, the pain from overuse is certainly not a pleasure.  The following 5 tips can help avoid gaming injuries:

  1. Monitor and control the amount of time spent playing to two hours or less daily
  2. Set an alarm to alert you that time is up and walk away
  3. Take breaks and go for a walk, ride a bike, or enjoy another healthy activity
  4. Do exercises which build upper body and core strength to help posture
  5. Stop gaming if you feel pain, don’t continue to play through it

Additionally, you may find that it helps you to avoid injury if you stretch your thumbs. Put your palm face down on a flat surface and lift your thumb up. Hold it for a half minute to a minute before relaxing. Repeat ten times. If you tuck your thumb into the center of your hand and then gently make a fist, it will stretch the tendon that the thumb uses. If you have pain, tingling, or numbness within a minute, it may be time to visit the doctor.

Choose an ergonomically correct chair with good support for gaming instead of a couch and sit up straight to help alleviate back and shoulder pain. The best pain prevention is like many things, don’t overdo it.

If you are feeling pain from playing video games, or would like more information about it, please call or visit Spine & Orthopedic Center today.