Gaming is a popular activity across the globe. WePC, a custom computer-building company, says there are more than 2.5 billion video gamers around the world. Sixty percent of United States-based gamers play video games daily, according to the Entertainment Software Association, a trade association of the video game industry.
According to the 2019 report ‘The State of Online Gaming’ from Limelight Networks, gamers are spending more time than ever before engaged in play. Gamers spend an average of seven hours and seven minutes each week playing games, which represents a 20 percent spike from the previous year. Gamers between the ages of 26 and 35 are playing for more than eight hours a week. All that gaming can leave gamers vulnerable to injury.
Many individuals are now experiencing overuse injuries from extended gaming sessions. Dominic King, D.O, a sports medicine physician at the Cleveland Clinic, says gaming athletes can be injured in similar manners to traditional athletes. Doctors have seen overuse injuries of the hand associated with eSports. Carpal tunnel syndrome, overuse in the elbow and shoulder, tendinitis, and even something called ‘gamer’s thumb’ can occur. Gamer’s thumb is a nickname given to a condition called de Quervain’s tenosynovitis, which occurs when the tendons that move the thumb become inflamed, leading to limited movement. Gaming and even smartphone use can result in this condition.
Staying informed about the potential for injury can keep gamers in better health. Gamers also can take steps to prevent common conditions.
Eye strain: Staring at a screen for hours while immersed in play can cause eye strain. Symptoms can include pain, redness, dryness, and blurry vision. Taking breaks and focusing on items at various distances can help rest the eyes.
Gamer’s thumb: Stretching the hand and thumb before playing and during breaks can rest the tendons in the hand and reduce the risk of inflammation.
Carpal tunnel syndrome: This occurs when there’s a pinched nerve in the wrist that causes hand or wrist pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness. Stretches that engage the palms, fists and thumbs can help. A chiropractor or physical therapist can help people learn stretches and find relief.
Hearing damage: Wearing headphones and listening to loud game play can damage hearing. Keeping the volume low and avoiding earbuds that keep the noise close to the eardrum can help reduce risk.
Back and neck strain: Improper posture while playing may lead to pain in the neck and back. Rest, breaks and stretching can help reduce and alleviate pain. Look for ergonomic gaming chairs, which may help prevent injury.
Gaming is popular, but eSports players need to be smart about their health when engaging in play.