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I HAVE WRIST PAIN AS A GAMER – DO I NEED A BRACE?

“I HAVE WRIST PAIN”

“I NEED TO GET A BRACE”

This is a very common thought process I’ve seen after treating so many gamers/professional players with wrist pain. I am writing this article to help our community understand what role the brace has in managing wrist pain but also to realize that this thought process will often only provide temporary relief to your pain.

BRACING: MANAGING WRIST PAIN IS NOT ABOUT PREVENTING MOVEMENT

I can’t stress this point enough – when we have wrist pain it is most commonly a result of repetitive strain. As I have said many times before overuse/repetitivestrain/overload represent 90% of the injuries I have seen or treated. This means the cause of the pain is usually tendon or muscle related (more often tendon). So why is managing wrist pain NOT about preventing movement? There can be quite a long discussion here but with any injury it is important that we manage load on our tissues. What I mean by this is we have to manage how much stress is placed on the tendon or muscle that is injured – balancing continued movement to promote proper healing and EXCESSIVE movement which may irritate tissues further. We prioritize continued movement to increase our ability to handle stress and prevent excessive movement to damage our tissues further. Bracing helps with preventing excessive movement.

USING A BRACE FOR GAMING PAIN: IT’S ABOUT LIMITING EXTRA STRESS

So a wrist brace is a great option to limit extra stress on the tendon when you ARE NOT gaming – especially with daily movements which may also irritate the your tendon. When we are managing wrist pain – essentially rehabilitating tendons at our wrists it is important we allow our tendons to continue MOVING to help restore function and reduce pain. We have to do it with SPECIFIC exercises/movement (each are dependent on which exact tendon is being strained and are the subject of the pain pattern series I have created). However there are situations in which we want to LIMIT movement through the brace to prevent extra stress on the tendon. So let’s talk about when we can use the brace with any gaming pains I’m going to go over several situations for you guys so you are able to make the best decision for yourselves. Before I discuss each of these stages it is important to first consider playing below or up to our “endurance limit.” To keep it simple: our tissues can only handle so much strain as-is, and even less when our tissues are injured. This strain limit is reflected by the amount of time we play before our wrist/hand/forearm begins to hurt. As a first line of defense, consider playing only to this limit before you consider adding in performing our exercises or utilizing a brace as described in this article. Again: I want to emphasize that movement is more important than immobilization through a brace, both before and during injury. (For the “before” phase, I have an injury prevention routine for those who are interested here).  Let’s have a look at the most appropriate situations to use a brace.

Early Stages (First 3-5 days)

One appropriate time to use a brace is during initial stages of the injury when you start to feel pain. Your tissues are more sensitive in this stage because of the inflammatory processes and that means you aren’t able to handle much stress. In this situation, we want to keep the brace on as much as possible because we want to LIMIT EXTRA STRESS. This means 1| At all times when you are not gaming Day to day activities like cooking, lifting, grabbing, carrying etc. can place extra stress on the tendon. 2| Sleeping When we are sleeping we have the potential to place our hands in awkward positions which may irritate the tendon further 3| During gaming if you can manage it (understanding that it can affect performance) This is especially for more sensitive cases and if it is severe enough that you are unable to play, you may get more benefit from taking a day off while focusing on recovery After the 3-5 days put it on only after you play your games (situations 1 & 2). During this time you would ideally be gradually increasing your tissues tolerance to stress through exercise.

Flare-up

Another situation is after you have been dealing with it for awhile and you flare the pain up by playing too much. This is often because we feel better through exercise and good early management. With a reduction of pain we are quick to jump back to the habits which caused the strain in the first place – usually playing too much without managing our wrist health well. We ignore our “endurance limit” causing our tissues to again become strained and making the painful area more sensitive. In this situation we keep it on primarily when you are not gaming.   JTNDaWZyYW1lJTIwc3JjJTNEJTI3JTJGJTJGZ2lmcy5jb20lMkZlbWJlZCUyRmJyYWNpbmctUTA4QXI3JTI3JTIwZnJhbWVib3JkZXIlM0QlMjcwJTI3JTIwc2Nyb2xsaW5nJTNEJTI3bm8lMjclMjB3aWR0aCUzRCUyNzgwMCUyNyUyMGhlaWdodCUzRCUyNzUwMCUyNyUyMHN0eWxlJTNEJTI3LXdlYmtpdC1iYWNrZmFjZS12aXNpYmlsaXR5JTNBJTIwaGlkZGVuJTNCLXdlYmtpdC10cmFuc2Zvcm0lM0ElMjBzY2FsZSUyODElMjklM0IlMjclMjAlM0UlM0MlMkZpZnJhbWUlM0U=

HOW TO USE A BRACE FOR WRIST PAIN

Different braces are designed for different injuries; some come as one-size-fits-all and others require you to measure yourself first. There are a variety of different braces available with varying degrees of restriction, compression, and mobility limitation. The brace in the video is the rolyan universal thumb spica (universal both R/L),  however this option from amazon will also work fine . You may feel pressure from the brace. That can be entirely normal! Especially if you have inflammation, the brace may fit very snugly. This is true in particular for night splints, which are heavily padded to maintain a neutral wrist and hand position. What you shouldn’t feel, though, is pain. Your brace should not make your pain worse, cause a new or different kind of pain (such as electric or sharp pain when you’ve previously only had aching pain), or dig into your skin.

Quick Review:

My recommendations are to brace whenever you are not gaming during the first three-five days of a flare-up. After the first 3-5 days, you brace after your gaming session for about 1 week. After that you can wear the brace as needed when you are not gaming (given you are working on your endurance this whole time) That’s all guys – hope you guys found this helpful and please share this with anyone you know will benefit from better understanding how to utilize a brace to manage wrist pain as a gamer. By the way, I’ve also made a video for those who prefer this information in video form! (Check it out below). Until next time,

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1 Comment
  • Jewel Albarazi
    Posted at 01:06h, 19 August

    Hey! This post couldn’t be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my old room mate! He always kept talking about this. I will forward this page to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thank you for sharing!

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