Gamer’s Thumb: A Gaming Injury Guide


I decided to take a look at what “gamer’s thumb” is because my friend was recently told that he couldn’t play games for 4 to 6 weeks because he damaged his finger playing games.

I never realized how serious it was until then, so let’s take a look at what gamer’s thumb is and how to prevent it.

The full medical term for gamer’s thumb is “De Quervain’s tenosynovitis”. It is when your tendons become inflamed and your thumb obviously becomes stiff and sore. The best way to prevent this is to take regular breaks and stretch your fingers before playing games.

As I said, I decided to write this article after a friend suffered an injury. So, in this article, we are going to take a look at what gamer’s thumb is, how to prevent it, what to do if you get it, and also whether or not gaming is bad for your hands.

Let’s jump straight into it!

Joystick in hands. He like play and win video games.

What Is Gamers Thumb?

If you are searching for this because you are starting to have problems with your thumb then maybe you should see a doctor. If not and you are not too stressed about it and you just want to know if perhaps you have gamer’s thumb, keep reading this section to find out more.

Gamer’s thumb is a short and easy way of saying your tendons are inflamed. Basically, it happens due to constant strain on the tendons of your thumb. They become swollen or inflamed. Once this happens, you might be in some discomfort, pain, or both.

That is pretty much it. There is not much more I can say to elaborate on gamer’s thumb.

Is Gamers Thumb Permanent?

If you have got gamer’s thumb and you are starting to panic, please don’t. In this section we are going to talk about whether or not a gamer’s thumb is permanent, and, spoiler alert, you shouldn’t actually worry.

However, if you are in serious pain then as always, you should see a doctor. For now, though, let’s answer this question.

Gamer’s thumb itself is not permanent. However, if it keeps happening to you or if you don’t treat it properly, there is a risk that you can do permanent damage to your thumb. Most likely, you could lose mobility and strength in your thumb.

In this article, we are going to talk about ways you can prevent this from happening to you and we are also going to talk about what to do if you do have the problem. So, I highly recommend that you keep on reading if you are at all concerned.

How To Prevent Gamers Thumb

In this section, we are going to make a list that is aimed to help you prevent gamer’s thumb. Once we have gone through the list, we will talk a little bit about each of the most important things you should do to prevent your thumb from getting sore and your tendons become inflamed.

So, here is a list of how to prevent gamer’s thumb.

  • Do little hand exercises and stretches before playing.
  • Take breaks often and do those same exercises.
  • If your thumb starts getting stiff, stop playing and stop using it for at least 24 hours.

Do Hand Exercises

Yep, I know it sounds really silly but trust me, it works. From a very young age, anybody who is sporty or active is taught to always stretch before doing exercises.

Believe it or not, gaming is quite tiring on your hands and upper body in general, and gamers can benefit from stretching.

Do stretches on your hands and your thumb. Start by pulling each finger back as far as you can. Make sure you shake your hands and just find any way that you can stretch them. Also, do exercises.

Sometimes, however, just because there is pain or problems in the hands, it doesn’t mean the hands are where the problem originates. Here’s a video from our Youtube channel explaining why you should consider more than just the hands:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Lz8mclma9Y
Stretches for Gamers – Beyond the Hands

Take Regular Breaks

I have already mentioned that gaming can be quite stressful on your hands and think about any sport that you do. You don’t just run on a soccer field for 90 minutes. There is a break halfway.

It is the same with any sport, they all have intervals for the players to rest because if they don’t, they risk getting serious injuries.

I know that when you are playing games, you are just sitting down but your hands are constantly moving and they are constantly working. So, you need to give them a break.

We know that everybody says you need to take a break while playing games but it is not just so that you don’t get mentally fatigued, it is also so that you can get some physical rest.

I recommend getting up, taking a walk just outside in your yard or anywhere. Take 10 to 15 minutes every hour. Wait, let me be realistic. Let’s say, every 2 hours at least. While you are taking the break, stretch your hands a little bit and also shake your hands.

Trust me, looking silly is a lot better than not being able to play games for 4 weeks because your tendons got inflamed.

Stop Playing

If your thumb starts to get sore or any of your fingers start to get sore, just stop playing immediately. Again, trust me. Like I said when I said looking silly is better than missing out for 4 weeks, not playing for 24 hours is a lot better than not playing for 4 weeks because you were stubborn and didn’t want to stop playing.

I know the feeling, to be honest, it is a Saturday night and you are busy playing with your friends. It is still early and you guys are going on mad winning streaks in Warzone or seriously ranking up in Rainbow Six Siege.

It can become almost unthinkable to call in an early night when you are having so much fun, but you have to do it I guess.

What To Do And How To Treat Gamers Thumb

Look, we can go on and on about home remedies for what to do when you have gamer’s thumb, and trust me, I am going to bore you with them in just a little bit.

Your first move should be to try and prevent it from happening, other than that, here is a list of a few things that you can do when you have gamer’s thumb

  • Go see a Doctor: This is pretty obvious and I am not just including this step for my own safety but it is the first thing you should do if you don’t know what’s wrong.
  • Stop playing until you have fully recovered: gamer’s thumb usually takes about 4 weeks to heal. It actually happened to my friend but on his index finger and it took him about 3 weeks which was really good but it usually around 4 weeks
  • Take anti-inflammatories: For this, you should be able to go to your local pharmacy and ask them for over-the-counter anti-inflammatories. Make sure they are safe and make sure they don’t trigger any of your allergies.
  • Dip your thumb in ice for short periods of time: Gamer’s Thumb is when your tendons are inflamed. One of the best things is to expose your thumb to cold temperatures. Don’t leave your thumb in there for too long or it might fall off, just joking but seriously, don’t leave it in there for too long.

Is Playing Games Bad For Your Hands?

“Playing games is bad for your hands” sounds like something my mother would have said to me if I didn’t want to get off the console and study but was there any truth to it? Well, let’s find out in this section.

Doing any form of exercise can be bad for you if it is not done properly. So, technically, if you overdo it when playing games or you don’t take proper precautions, yes, in the long run, it could be bad for you.

There is almost nothing that you can do that isn’t bad for you in some way. Eating too much, running too much, walking too much, and lifting heavyweights in the gym can all be bad.

So, just because gaming can hurt your hands, doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. Just do what you love doing and stop worrying about it. However, take the proper precautions.

Conclusion

It is not nice to get hurt when we are doing something we enjoy doing but it is a real thing that we need to look out for. Everything that we do now while we are young is going to affect us eventually.

So, it is just best to take precautions even if you don’t tell your friends that you are busy doing it out of fear of looking silly. 

 

David Sacks

Dave is a PC and console gamer who got his first console in 1995. He plays FPS games and sports games but also loves ESO. Dave has worked in IT for the last 7 years.

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