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Managing Wrist Tendonitis as a Gamer: Treatment and Causes

Written by: Jasmine Chiam
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Wrist tendonitis, or tenosynovitis, refers to the inflammation of the tendons present in the wrist. Tendons are essentially thick and fibrous bundles of muscle that connect muscles to the bone, allowing the transmission of forces from one to the other, which leads to movement [1].

You may also notice people using the term tendinitis. This could get somewhat confusing, but tendinitis and tendonitis are merely spelling variations and refer to the same condition.

More often than not, the physical ailments esports athletes experience are insidious, developing subtly over time. Any esports gamer who trains competitively could be at risk of repetitive strain and overuse injuries, including wrist tendonitis [2].

Though these conditions are prevalent, most professional esports players and avid gamers do not seek necessary medical attention when experiencing such pain or injuries [3]. If you spend incredibly long hours gaming on a daily (or almost daily) basis, you could be at risk of wrist tendonitis.

Here’s what you should know about the common symptoms associated with this condition. We’ll also cover the possible treatment options, prevention strategies, and how this ailment may affect your esports careers and gaming performance if neglected. 

Causes of Wrist Tendonitis in Gamers

While any tendon in your body can be irritated, tendonitis most commonly occurs in specific areas of the body, such as the knees, heels, elbows, and wrist.

Wrist injuries may surface due to other factors, including age, poor posture of the wrist, acute trauma, or strenuous sports activities heavy on the wrist. However, the most common cause for wrist tendonitis is performing repetitive activities [24].

Esports players and gaming enthusiasts often find themselves in a loop of mechanical, unvaried movements. Clicking, aiming, mashing keys, and controlling the joystick—all these motions involve similar and precise patterns.

Eventually, these repetitive motions lead to the inflammation of the tendons or the tendon sheaths, which are thin layers of tissue found surrounding each tendon in the body. When the tendon affected lies in the wrist, you’ll start encountering the characteristic symptoms covered below.

Symptoms and Impact On Your Esports Career

If you have wrist tendonitis, you may experience weakness and pain in the wrist exacerbated by movement or applied pressure. You may also notice tenderness, redness, and swelling around the affected wrist or a creaking and grinding sensation upon motion.

The pain reported leans more towards a dull ache than a sharp stabbing pain in most cases. This pain, weakness, and discomfort could hamper the normal movement of your wrist and reduce your range of motion. Ultimately, if the condition is left to progress, it may get in the way of some of your daily activities, including gaming, typing, and controlling a joystick.

You may have to take a break from gaming, especially if your healthcare professional or physical therapist has advised you to do so. Continually carrying out activities that caused your injury may dampen the healing process and aggravate symptoms [2].

If the inflammation affects the tendons on the thumb side of your wrist, this condition is called de Quervain tenosynovitis, or gamer’s thumb. Because it is a form of wrist tendonitis, you’ll typically experience similar symptoms, where motions involving your thumbs or wrist could worsen the pain [5].

Diagnosis and Treatment

Your healthcare provider would diagnose your condition based on your reported symptoms and a physical examination. Additionally, they may recommend an ultrasound examination. This procedure can reveal any involvement or injury to the tendon and its sheath in a very holistic and inexpensive manner [6].

Once your healthcare professional has sufficient information to make a diagnosis, they’ll recommend any necessary form of treatment to help restore function, prevent progression, and alleviate your pain or symptoms.

You may be recommended anti-inflammatory medications to remedy the pain, swelling, and inflammation. Bracing or splinting are other treatment options to help restrict movement temporarily to facilitate recovery.

If your case is more severe, you may need to get a corticosteroid injection or a surgical procedure done based on your doctor’s advice [6]. Surgery is not appropriate for all cases due to its associated risks and higher costs. 

Carrying out physical therapy exercises, such as gentle stretching, may also be helpful, though this is best performed under supervision or guidance from a healthcare provider. You may also be asked to abstain from activities that could lead to the deterioration of your condition, for instance, prolonged gaming or training sessions.

Understandably, you may be concerned about the possible adverse outcomes or side effects that may arise from any of these treatment options. Find a safe space to discuss this with your treating physician, especially if a higher-risk management option is recommended, such as surgery.

Is Gaming Possible After Recovery?

You can return to gaming after recovery, but ensure your doctor has given you the green light to do so. However, going back to your old routine may lead to a recurrence in symptoms. Hence, you may prevent wrist tendonitis by

  • avoiding long sessions of gaming and training
  • ensuring your break up those periods with enough rest and stretching
  • wearing a wrist splint or brace when performing tasks that may strain your wrist

Conclusion

Wrist tendonitis is a physical ailment that results from frequent repetitive movement, including gaming, typing, and using a computer mouse or controller. Understandably, your training and gaming sessions may involve inherently forceful, quick, and repetitive motions. Hence, you may be at a higher risk of wrist tendonitis.

In any case, it’s always best to get your pain or symptoms investigated by a health professional. Leaving any such injury unattended for too long may lead to irreversible damage, hence, hindering the progress of your esports pursuit.


Disclaimer: This is an educational post on managing wrist tendonitis as a gamer. It should not substitute the advice given by your healthcare professional. EsportsHeadlines.com and the author of this post disclaim any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, as it is not meant for diagnostic or treatment purposes.