14 Emerging Video Game Injuries & Ailments

Gamers can suffer injuries just like any other athletes. Search through our library of video game injuries below, and learn how to identify them or how to prevent them from occurring in your gaming career.

Eye strain

Strain/fatigue

Fatigue and other symptoms of the eyes that occur as a result of prolonged screen time. This is the one ailment for which every gamer is at risk.


Symptom presentation

carpal tunnel symptom presentation

Upper crossed syndrome

Postural syndrome

A postural syndrome where muscle imbalance causes forward rounding of the shoulders and forward leaning of the neck.


Symptom presentation

Upper crossed syndrome symptom presentation

Lower crossed syndrome

Postural syndrome

A postural syndrome where muscle imbalance causes forward rotation of the pelvis and a “sway back” appearance of the lower back.


Symptom presentation

lower crossed syndrome symptom presentation

Tension-type headache

Tension-type headache

Secondary headache

Aggravating, secondary headaches that come from hypertonicity or trigger points in the upper back, neck, head, and face.


Symptom presentation

carpal tunnel symptom presentation

Video game injuries

Mouse elbow

Overuse strain

An overuse tendinosis of the common extensor tendon, usually causing pain and discomfort on the outside (thumb side) of the elbow.


Symptom presentation

mouse elbow symptom presentation

Gamer's thumb

Overuse strain

An inflammatory overuse syndrome of the tendon sheaths of the thumb, usually causing pain and discomfort on the outside (thumb side) of the wrist and forearm.


Symptom presentation

gamers thumb symptom presentation

Mouse shoulder

Overuse strain

An overuse tendinosis of the proximal biceps tendon, usually causing pain and discomfort on the front of the shoulder.


Symptom presentation

mouse shoulder symptom presentation

Sacroiliac joint dysfunction

Sacroiliac joint dysfunction

Joint dysfunction

A painful joint dysfunction which includes fixation at the sacroiliac joint and painful, hypertonic muscles in the pelvis and lower back.


Symptom presentation

Sacroiliac joint dysfunction presentation

Sciatica

Nerve impingement

A nerve impingement syndrome at the pelvis, usually causing pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in the back or outside of the thigh and lower leg. Sciatic pain is most commonly caused by the piriformis muscle.


Symptom presentation

sciatica symptom presentation

Migraine headache

Primary headache

Debilitating, primary headaches that cause a myriad of neurologic symptoms. Migraine headaches can keep you down for days at a time.


Symptom presentation

carpal tunnel symptom presentation

Thoracic outlet syndrome

Impingement syndrome

A compression syndrome of the brachial plexus (nerves) or subclavian artery (blood vessel) at the shoulder that may cause symptoms anywhere in the arm.


Symptom presentation

mouse shoulder symptom presentation

Medial epicondylosis

Overuse strain

An overuse tendinosis of the common flexor tendon, usually causing pain and discomfort on the inside (pinky side) of the elbow.


Symptom presentation

medial epicondylosis symptom presentation

Cubital tunnel syndrome

Nerve impingement

A nerve impingement syndrome at the elbow, usually causing numbness, tingling, and weakness on the pinky side of the forearm and hand as well as the pinky finger and ring finger (the “funny bone” sensation).


Symptom presentation

cubital tunnel symptom presentation

Carpal tunnel syndrome

Nerve impingement

A nerve impingement syndrome at the wrist, usually causing numbness, tingling, and/or weakness in the thumb side of the hand as well as the thumb, index, and middle finger.


Symptom presentation

carpal tunnel symptom presentation

Identify the problem to prevent it from occurring

Each of the video game injuries or ailments listed above contain a thorough explanation of the pertinent anatomy, pathophysiology, and common mechanism(s) of injury.

With this information, you may be able to identify errors in your body position or mechanics that may lead to injury. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Postural syndromes

Often overlooked, prolonged sitting is a major factor in some of the most common ailments in gaming & esports.

Sitting increases the pressure on the intervertebral discs. If your posture is poor, the pressure may be greater than 150% of your body weight on the discs.

Increased pressure on the discs and bones of the spine can lead to early degeneration (wearing down of the bones & joints) in both the lower back and neck. Spinal degeneration can lead to damage of the nerves or blood vessels that exit the spine and travel to the rest of your body.

Prolonged seated postures also create a remarkable imbalance in musculature. Most importantly are the effects in the hip and shoulder regions of the body.

See: upper crossed syndrome, lower crossed syndrome, tension-type headaches, sacroiliac dysfunction, sciatica (piriformis syndrome)

Repetitive strain injuries

All types of gaming, whether PC or console, increase the risk for elbow, wrist, and hand injuries & ailments.

Through constant use of a controller or keyboard & mouse, there is potential risk created by the positions of the hands & wrists. Repetitive strain injuries (overuse tendinoses) are the most common video game injuries, and they are infamous in professional gaming. Some esports athletes have even been forced to retire due to these types of injuries.

Fortunately, the pathophysiology and mechanism of repetitive strain injuries are well researched. The rehabilitation of these gaming injuries is simple & straight forward, and the prognosis is usually excellent. Following resolution, the prevention of these gaming injuries is also simple & straight forward.

See: mouse elbow, gamer's thumb, mouse shoulder, medial epicondylosis

Nerve impingements

Nerve impingements are another sub-group of ailments that are common in both casual gaming and in esports. Some nerves in your body are in areas more prone to insult, and sometimes your body position or movements can cause irritation on one of these nerves.

Namely, the most common nerves prone to irritation from gaming are the median nerve at the wrist, the ulnar nerve at the elbow, the brachial plexus under the collar bone, and the sciatic nerve in the gluteal region.

See: carpal tunnel syndrome, cubital tunnel syndrome, thoracic outlet syndrome (brachial plexopathy), sciatica (piriformis syndrome)

Other gaming injuries & ailments

Other injuries common for in gaming & esports include eye strain & headaches. Eye strain, in particular, is an ailment in which every gamer is at risk. You may also experience tension-type headaches or migraines from many hours gaming.

See: eye strain, tension-type headaches, migraine headaches

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