As a gamer focusing on your 4X strategy you might not realize that your intense efforts may be wreaking havoc on your hands and wrists.
Numbness, spasms, pain, and tingling hit you when you most need your hands to be in top form. This hand and wrist pain you are feeling may be the result of carpal tunnel syndrome. Gaming carpal tunnel hand pain is a reality that impacts performance.
Note: The following is not medical advice. Consult your doctor or physician to get a correct diagnosis of your hand or wrist pain.
The Impact of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome on Gamers
Carpal tunnel syndrome happens when the median nerve, which runs from the upper arm down through the carpal tunnel in the wrist to the hand, is pinched. Video gaming, which requires the repetitive movement of the hands and wrists, can cause inflammation of the tissues surrounding the carpal tunnel. The swollen tissues cause pressure on the median nerve, which results in carpal tunnel hand or wrist pain.
Professional gamers who perform high APMs (actions per minute), may be especially susceptible to carpal tunnel syndrome. Hand pain from carpal tunnel can impact game performance.
Carpal tunnel syndrome affects 4 million to 10 million Americans per year. Other people who suffer from carpal tunnel are those with diabetes or metabolic disorders and medical conditions that affect the nerves, pregnant women, and assembly line workers.
Women typically are three times more likely to get carpal tunnel than men. This might be because the carpal tunnel in women’s wrists are smaller than in men’s wrists.
While people older than 30 are more prone to carpal tunnel syndrome, the tendency for gaming and carpal tunnel can occur among younger generations. Even children who use gaming and mobile devices a great deal are prone to getting CTS.
Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Include:
- Tingling and/or numbness in the thumb, index, and middle or ring fingers, but not your pinky finger.
- Sometimes you might experience an electric shock-like sensation in these fingers.
- You might experience these feelings while holding a gaming console or stick. The sensations can also wake you up in the middle of the night.
- If left untreated, the muscles at the base of the thumb can deteriorate.
- Weakness in the hand or wrist, which can cause you to drop things or not be able to grip smaller items.
- Pain or tingling in the hand or wrist can travel up through your arm to your shoulder.
What Can Gamers Do About Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Until recently, the only option for dealing with carpal tunnel hand pain was to take steroids or some kind of pain-numbing medication, wear uncomfortable hand or wrist braces, or undergo surgery.
Any of these options are not good for a gamer’s performance. Drugs can make your mind fuzzy, braces are uncomfortable and can impede gaming dexterity, and surgery is expensive and sometimes leaves patients worse off.
There are holistic measures that temporarily relieve hand or wrist pain. Acupuncture, massage, applying cold and hot measures, are a few ways you can relieve your hand or wrist pain for a while.
However, these methods don’t last, especially if you’re going up against someone like Kuro Takhasami and you need lots of practice!
Try CarpalAID® – The Hand Pain Solution
CarpalAID® is a small patch worn on the palm. It is medication-free and easy to use. The patch relieves hand pain by gently lifting the soft tissue of the hand, which relieves pressure on the median nerve. Invented by engineer Joseph Nazari, CarpalAID® is a low cost and in some cases covered by insurance. Learn more about CarpalAID® here.
The best thing a gamer can do is to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome. Following are some ways you can prevent carpal tunnel syndrome and get a 1UP on your play:
Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Long periods of gaming can have a negative impact on your wrists and hands. Taking frequent breaks from your gaming will definitely help. During these breaks, stretch your hands and wrists. See this article for exercises and stretches you can do, or download our free ebook below for detailed explanations on hand and wrist exercises and stretches.
Relax Your Grip
This might be a hard one to do as a gamer, but try to reduce the pressure on your hands by relaxing your grip on controllers during pauses in a game.
Although your mom might have scolded you to do this as a kid, her intentions were in the right place. Good posture helps prevent carpal tunnel syndrome. When you sit incorrectly, with your shoulders rolled forward, it shortens your neck and shoulder muscles.
This incorrect posture compresses the nerves in your neck. It can also impact your wrists and hands. Speaking of wrist and hands, keep your arms at a 90-degree angle when sitting at a desk, and your hands and wrists level.
Ergonomics for Gamers
There are some ergonomic game controllers, mice, keyboards, and even gaming chairs available. If you use a keyboard, keep it at elbow height or a little lower. Make sure the mouse you use fits well so you don’t have to use extra pressure or squeeze your hand to grip it.