Everyone knows a gamer, and chances are, it’s you. With over 164 million video game players in the US and three quarters of American households having at least one gamer, that’s a statement we can make pretty confidently.
The incredible growth of the eSports industry has cemented it as one of the biggest forms of entertainment around the world. Live gaming events bring in viewers in the hundreds of millions, and some colleges are even setting up gaming teams and offering eSports scholarships. But like any other sport, there are physical demands to achieve success as a formidable opponent.
The fact that many gamers are in a sitting position for 5-10+ hours each day while repeating the same motions with their wrists and hands is leading to an increase in cases of musculoskeletal conditions, particularly in pediatric patients.
What are common conditions associated with gaming and how can they be prevented and treated?
Orthopedic surgeons, Sports Medicine professionals and Hand specialists are seeing an increase of the following conditions within the gaming community.
- Tendonitis of the forearm muscles
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- “Gamers thumb” (De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis)
- Ulnar nerve irritation
- Upper back and neck muscle pain
- Poor posture, core weakness
- Obesity and poor balance
- Eye strain
Being sidelined due to injury can make your average gamer disgruntled, but for serious players on the eSports scene, it can mean the loss of huge winnings in major events. That’s why prevention is key to be able to complete at the highest level. Here are some tips:
Limit play time
- The less you put yourself at risk of injury the better. Limit play time and take multiple breaks during a long gaming session. Parents and caregivers should determine an appropriate daily limit for video games for their children, and encourage alternative physical activity throughout the day.
Evaluate your set up
- Make sure the equipment you use is as ergonomic as possible. This includes your chair, desk, keyboard and mouse. Blue light glasses can help with eye strain.
- Build core strength to support proper posture. Stretching loosens the muscles to reduce risk of kyphosis (rounding of the back). Stretch your wrists, fingers and thumbs before playing and during breaks. Go on walks, runs, swim or engage in other sports. It is important in all sports (even eSports) to cross train.
Don’t play through pain
- Continuing to play video games while in pain will make the condition worsen and take longer to heal.
Some serious conditions caused by continuous gaming may require surgery, but most can be treated through a combination of activity modification, ergonomic adjustments, physical and occupational therapy, massage, devices/braces and medical injections or prescriptions.
If you or someone you know is experiencing a gaming-related injury, the specialists at Northeast Orthopedics and Sports Medicine are skilled in providing the custom treatment plan you need to get back to the sport you love. Reach out to one of our offices to make your appointment today.