Thumb Bind Tendinopathy | De Quervian’s Tenosynovitis | Gamers Thumb
Thumb bind tendinopathy is a condition that affects the tendons in your wrist and thumb. Tendons are like little ropes that connect your muscles to your bones, and these particular tendons help you move your thumb. When you play games or use your thumb and wrist a lot, these tendons can get irritated and swollen, causing pain.
This diagnosis is termed thumb bind tendinopathy, but may also go by “falcon thumb” due to the frequent occurrence in Smash players who use the thumb to hit the A, X, Y, and C joystick on a GameCube controller. This name is also interchangeable with De Quervain’s tenosynovitis, 1st dorsal compartment tenosynovitis, or gamers thumb. This diagnosis is vastly different from carpal tunnel syndrome as carpal tunnel from gaming is much less common than many know and believe. Discussed below are just a few simple, but effective ways to fix wrist pain from gaming.
Individuals may experience pain and tenderness in the area indicated above. Weakness is also likely to be present with gripping and moving a mouse or pinching to open that new pack of pokemon cards or bag of beef jerky. Gamers are likely to begin experiencing warmth or mild pain while playing, but more of the pain is likely to come following play. This area then may feel sore or achy well after use with general stiffness most often reported even into the next day.
The following information is provided for general educational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. It is not intended to replace consultation with a qualified healthcare professional. If you have specific concerns or questions about your health or medical condition, please seek the guidance of a licensed physician or another qualified medical practitioner. Any reliance you place on the information provided is solely at your own risk. In no event will the author or 1HP be liable for any loss or damage arising from using this information? Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting or changing any medical treatment or regimen.
Perform this quick test* shown here to screen for this diagnosis. If there is a sharp pain experienced on the thumb side of the wrist then this may indicate a you have this condition.
Gamers use their thumb and wrist a lot! Gamers are at risk because of the long durations we play. Oftentimes this means we are taking less rest breaks when we are in the zone because we don’t always think to put our body first. Pain is something that can be reduced from distractions and gaming is a good distractor which makes it hard for gamers to know when to stop due to pain. Gamers are also at risk because of the specific motions required when playing. Each form of gaming utilizes these specific tendons as they allow us to hold on to the input device and move the thumb to tap buttons or move a joystick. If you want to learn more about some of the anatomy and science, check out the sections below!
Holding screen for prolonged periods of time and using thumb to tap/text
Manipulating the joystick, hitting buttons, and holding a controller for prolonged periods of time
Frequently moving the wrist/mouse left and right
Returning from this injury takes a concerted effort, but can be done without much time away from the game. Below are a few steps that individuals need to understand and complete when gaming wrist pain in this area occurs.
*Surgery is very rarely required in order to effectively treat
The diagnosis was explained in short above, but for those wanting to know and learn more this is for you.
Specifically, this diagnosis is looking at 2 tendons (connect muscle to bone) and the sheaths that cover them. Through repetitive use and inadequate amounts of rest, the tendons themselves are constantly rubbing and experience excess friction. This friction leads to a pain response to warn the body of damage and overuse so that individuals will stop the aggravating activity.
Tendons responsible (highlighted in the yellow):
The muscles involved move the thumb like this (also known as thumb extension / abduction):
When gamers move their thumb a lot in this direction it can lead to increased strain on the tendon which leads to the symptoms.
It should also be known that gaming is not the only activity to bring on this condition and certainly other lifestyle factors play a role. School, work, and other hobbies can also further stress these tendons and can be important to thoroughly evaluate as well.
Intersection Syndrome-Intersection Syndrome mimics Gamers Thumb (De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis) as well as Fox Fingers as it is within close proximity to the pain location. Instead with Intersection syndrome, it will present (Proximal to the dorsal wrist crease) higher up on the back of the forearm roughly 4-6 cm from the wrist crease. This is a form of tenosynovitis between 2 sets of tendons intersecting and near the wrist causing friction and pain.
There are several approaches to take in order to prevent this injury from occurring or coming back. There are 3 main factors to first focus on and address, but it is also important to keep in mind other secondary factors which can be helpful to address.
Written By: Brett Becker, OTR/L, MS, ACE-CPT