Carpal tunnel syndrome is perhaps the most common diagnosis given for any wrist or hand pain. However, this is not the most common disorder that you’ll face as a gamer. You’re more likely to suffer from overuse injuries including gamer’s thumb and mouse elbow.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is impingement or irritation of the median nerve within the carpal tunnel at the base of your hand. When the median nerve becomes irritated in this region due to pressure, inflammation, and/or stretching, symptoms will occur.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is most prevalent in people who spend a lot of time using a PC; therefore, if you’re a PC gamer, you are more likely to experience this ailment. More specifically, carpal tunnel is more likely to occur in your right hand due to prolonged extension of the wrist to hold the mouse.
Note: if you’re a console gamer, you are not necessarily excluded from the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome. However, due to the hand positions and movement patterns involved in gripping a console controller, it is significantly less common.
It’s important to know some basic anatomy of the wrist and hand to understand carpal tunnel syndrome.
To begin, the word “carpal” in carpal tunnel syndrome is in reference to the bones at the base of the hand. There are 8 carpal bones at the base of your hand—3 of which attach to your forearm at the wrist joint.
These bones are oriented in 2 rows, proximal (closer to your wrist) and distal (closer to your fingers). The bones are listed from the thumb side to the pinky side of your hand with your palm facing upward.
Across these bones is a band of tissue called the flexor retinaculum, also known as the transverse carpal ligament. On the thumb side of your palm, it attaches to the scaphoid and trapezium bones. On the pinky side of your palm, it attaches to the pisiform and hamate bones.
The 8 carpal bones and the flexor retinaculum form the carpal tunnel. Through this tunnel, 10 structures pass from your forearm into your hand:
In your hand beyond the carpal tunnel, the median nerve innervates 3 muscles:
The median nerve is also responsible for touch sensation for a large portion of your hand. The cutaneous innervation (touch sensation) includes:
The median nerve DOES NOT provide touch sensation to your pinky finger, the lateral (pinky) side of your ring finger, or the majority of the back of your hand!
Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when there is compression or irritation of the median nerve within the carpal tunnel. The compression or irritation may be caused by:
If you’re affected by carpal tunnel syndrome, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
Carpal tunnel syndrome does not cause any of the above listed symptoms in the pinky finger or pinky finger side of your wrist or hand. Those symptoms are more consistent with cubital tunnel syndrome.
Other common findings may include:
Note: paleness or blue color and/or cool or cold sensation along with tingling and numbness are indicative of blood flow occlusion. This may be a more serious condition, and you should consult your doctor or visit the emergency room if you are concerned about these symptoms.
For gamers, carpal tunnel syndrome is more common for PC users due to the position of the hands over the keyboard & mouse. Common risks for PC users include:
The most common mechanisms of injury for carpal tunnel syndrome are direct compression of the median nerve, poor and/or prolonged static position, and inflammation.
For all hand & wrist injuries, we’ve created a comprehensive injury prevention program. Performing this exercise routine may help reduce your risk for all gamer injuries, including carpal tunnel syndrome.
Hand & wrist position: it is important to keep your wrists neutral!
Use & overuse: overuse may lead to tenosynovitis or other injury which can cause crowding of the median nerve:
Generally speaking, surgery is not an appropriate treatment as surgery can sometimes worsen the problem.
In practice, the following treatments are effective for the treatment and resolution of carpal tunnel syndrome:
It is also important to eat an anti-inflammatory diet and/or include anti-inflammatory supplements in your diet to prevent chronic, systemic inflammation that may worsen nerve compression in your wrist.
Following resolution, continuation of these protocols allows for prevention of this condition from reoccurring.
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This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Esports Healthcare disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
The information contained on this website does not establish, nor does it imply, doctor-patient relationship. Esports Healthcare does not offer this information for diagnostic purposes. A diagnosis must not be assumed based on the information provided.
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