Take a break from video games to prevent 'gamer's thumb'

accreditation

"Gamer's thumb" – a repetitive stress injury – can strike anyone who spends a lot of time playing video games. But taking breaks can be just what the doctor ordered, a new study suggests.

Limit daily gaming

"Forcefully pounding a game controller or computer mouse for hours can cause inflammation of the tendons of the hand, as well as neck and back pain," orthopaedic hand surgeon Dr Dori Cage said in a news release from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

"Parents can identify signs of gamer's thumb if a child complains about pain or locking and clicking in [their] thumb. To help reduce the risk of this condition, limit their daily gaming to two hours or less," Cage suggested.

Read: New diagnosis: 'text thumb'

Gamer's thumb is technically known as De Quervain's tendinosis. It's an inflammation of the tendons connecting the wrist to the thumb.

Video game fans can develop the problem when they use their thumbs rapidly and repeatedly.

To prevent injury to the thumb and other parts of the body from electronic game play, the academy offers this advice:

  • Take a break from gaming. If you find it hard to stop playing, use software that will alert you when it's time to do something else.
  • Stretch your thumb during breaks. Try holding your hand out in front of you with your palm facing you, and gently bend the tip of your thumb down toward the base of your index finger. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds and repeat 10 times. Or put your palm on a table and lift your thumb up. Hold for 10 seconds, then lower your thumb. Do this 10 times.
  • Watch your posture. Slouching could cause back, neck and arm pain.
  • Get exercise, especially in the upper body and core, to lower the risk of back problems and reduce hand and arm strain. Running, biking and swimming can help. Aim to get 35 to 60 minutes of exercise a day.
  • Don't play video games if doing so causes pain.

Read more:

Should you do health checks online?

Consumers shower and sleep with smartphones

Let your fingers do the talking

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Have you entered our Health of the Nation survey?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes
30% - 9634 votes
No
70% - 22518 votes
Vote