Hand Nerve Pain, Numbness, and Tingling: Is It Carpal Tunnel From Gaming?
Let’s face it, whether you’re grinding for ranking, the hottest title just dropped, or you finally get away from work or school, one of the most common symptoms from changes in gaming frequencies (how often we play) and duration (how long we play in one session and cumulatively play in 24 hrs.) can cause hand and wrist pain.
The first key identifier is the types of symptoms you are experiencing. See, nerve compression is like when a pathway for information in your body, called a nerve, gets squeezed or pressured. It’s a bit like a traffic jam on a busy road, or a PC that has limited bandwidth secondary to a faulty network. If that network has too much load on it from various programs, malware, throttling, etc. it can cause frustration and limited performance. Similarly, in your body, nerves send messages between your brain and different parts of your body. When a nerve is compressed, it can lead to various symptoms. Here’s a brief breakdown:
1. Tingling or Numbness: It’s like when your hand falls asleep, and you feel that “pins and needles” sensation. This can happen when the nerve isn’t able to send signals properly.
2. Pain: Compression can cause pain along the pathway of the nerve. It might feel like aching or sharp pain, depending on where the compression is happening.
3. Weakness: If a nerve isn’t working well, it can make your muscles feel weak. It’s like trying to play your favorite video game with a controller that’s not responding as it should.
4. Changes in Sensation: You might notice changes in how things feel, like textures or temperatures. It’s similar to when your gaming controller isn’t giving you the right feedback.
Now, for a video game enthusiast like yourself, it’s important to be aware that spending long hours playing games, especially with improper hand positions or gripping techniques, can contribute to nerve compression. Proper gaming scheduling (taking breaks, doing hand stretches, and maintaining good ergonomic practices) can help prevent these issues and keep your gaming experience enjoyable without discomfort or pain. If you ever notice persistent symptoms, it’s a good idea to talk to a healthcare professional who can provide advice tailored to your situation.
Maybe you’ve talked to a friend who’s had similar symptoms, visited your primary/family doctor, or taken a stroll down the dreadful WebMD or Reddit rabbit holes. Odds are, you’ve seen the term Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. To many after reading this, it sounds like a gaming death sentence requiring surgery. I encourage you to take a breather before reading further. Throughout our combined clinical experience at 1HP with professional organizations and recreational gamers, I can confidently say that the odds of your hand and wrist pain stemming from your carpal tunnel is relatively low. Let me break down the structures involved first.
1. Carpal Tunnel:
Think of your wrist as a tunnel made up of bones and a strong band of tissue called the carpal ligament. This tunnel is like a pathway that your hand’s nerves and tendons (the things that connect muscles to bones) travel through. We call this passage the “carpal tunnel.” This tunnel contains major muscle tendons, nerves, arteritis, and veins.
2. Median Nerve Compression:
Inside the carpal tunnel, there’s a nerve called the median nerve. It is one of the three major nerves of the wrist and hand. When there’s too much pressure on this nerve (compression), it can cause the symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. The pain patterns for the median nerve are shown below in light and dark pink.
3. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS):
Now, sometimes this tunnel gets a bit crowded, especially if you use your hands a lot, like playing video games. When the tunnel gets squeezed or irritated, it can lead to something called Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. It’s a bit like traffic jams in the tunnel, causing problems for the messages trying to get through. This can make your hand feel tingly, numb, or even painful.
The Good, The Better, And The Best
Now we understand the median nerve is one of the main highways. There are other branches or roads that come off of the median nerve. For example, the orange section of the image above is the palmar cutaneous branch of the median nerve. This branch comes off the median nerve before it goes under the carpal tunnel. If you have symptoms in this area, then it likely isn’t carpal tunnel syndrome and it should only affect the pink areas!
We can easily diagnose and treat carpal tunnel syndrome and help you Game Without Pain with one of our specialists! This often requires no surgery or advanced imagining as we can use clinical tests via video call and walk you through them from the comfort of your own home!
We have created a SPECIAL FREE GUIDE on wrist and hand pain located here. This will allow you to understand the basics and understand your body a bit more. If you are ready to do something about your pain, we are giving away our Gaming Wrist Pain PDF only for what you think it is worth for a limited time here. This tool is the ultimate guide towards healing yourself and provides specific structure and routine towards eliminating your unique pain.
I hope this article helps! If you ever have any questions be sure to try out our free consultation to speak with one of our specialists!
Dr. Nick Fulco, PT, DPT, Cert. DN, TPI