Game Over Grip | Thenar Eminence Strain
Game over Grip is a condition that affects the thenar eminence which are three muscles in your palm on the thumb side. When you play video games or use your hands a lot, these muscles can feel stiff and tight causing a feeling of pain. These muscles in particular are what allows each person to move a joystick which is necessary in most games to move a character or look around.
This diagnosis is termed “Game Over Grip” due to how one is likely to stop playing as a result. This can be present in controller gamers due to the movements required of the joystick. Through improper positioning, poor conditioning, or inadequate rest these muscles and tendons will take the brunt of this and elicit pain. This name “Game Over Grip” is also interchangeable with Thenar Eminence strain.
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 thumb pain from gaming.
Gamers are likely to begin experiencing a sore, achey, or stiff feeling in the area indicated above which if ignored may lead to further pain and discomfort. Weakness and coordination of the thumb is also likely to be present with moving the joystick as well as pressing buttons with the thumb. This is likely to decrease performance and alter the gameplay of the individual where movements may be slowed or less precise.
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Gamers use their hands 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 time the thumb is moving the joystick (opposition and abduction), these muscles are being used which for most games is extremely often. Additionally gamers who use KontrolFreek thumbstick extenders on the joysticks have a greater range of motion allowed due to the increased arc distance available. For these gamers this means greater lengthening and shortening of the muscle which may contribute to this injury if not worked up gradually.
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 take when 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 three muscles which are grouped together to represent the palm of the hand on the thumb side. These muscles are responsible for several of the movements of the thumb used when moving a joystick on a controller. These muscles help to make up some of the “intrinsic” muscles of the hand which means they are small and both originate and attach in the hand. Through repetitive use or inadequate amounts of rest these muscles can begin to feel tight, stiff, achy which if ignored may lead to structural damage over time. This overuse leads to a pain response to warn the body of damage so that individuals will stop the aggravating activity.
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 this tendon and can be important to thoroughly evaluate as well.
Wartenberg’s Syndrome is a nerve issue, specifically of the radial nerve. An individual would experience sensory issues (Numbness/tingling) on the back of the hand and a small portion on the palm side of the hand both on the thumb side. This may come on due to wearing a watch or a wristband too tight over the wrist as well as traumatic injuries. Click the link here to learn more about this diagnosis.
DeQuervain’s Tenosynovitis is irritation of two tendon sheaths which will cause pain on the thumb side of the wrist. Click the link here to learn more about this diagnosis.
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