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Trigger Finger in Esports Gamers: Symptoms and Treatment

Written by: Jasmine Chiam

Trigger finger, also known as stenosing tenosynovitis, is a prevalent finger ailment that lies among the host of esports hand injuries.

While esports isn’t a physically taxing or grueling form of sport, you may still be at risk of certain physical injuries, especially if you’re gaming consistently for long hours on end. In fact, just like traditional sports athletes, avid gamers and professional esports players are at risk of overuse injuries. Yet, only a tiny percentage seek the medical help and attention they need [1].

Say you’re itching to pursue a career in electronic gaming and esports, or perhaps you’re already in the thick of your esports journey. In either case, the extended hours spent in training and practice could elevate your risk of developing this medical condition called trigger finger.

The Cause of Trigger Finger in Esports Gamers

Essentially, trigger finger is thought to be caused by repetitive movements and forceful use of your fingers. The underlying mechanism of this condition could be attributed to the inflammation and thickening of the tendon sheath, which is a thin layer of tissue that surrounds all tendons present in the body [2].

The tendon is a band of tissue that links your bones to your muscles. In trigger finger, either the tendon sheath or the tendon of the affected finger thickens and swells, compromising the smooth passage of the tendon through its sheath. Ultimately, this occurrence leads to the painful manipulation and movement of the affected digit [2].

Because esports gamers train for many consecutive hours to upgrade their skills and gameplay, they are at an increased risk of this overuse injury. Repetitive movements and extensive gripping when using the mouse or other gaming equipment can lead to stress and strain of the fingers, ultimately giving rise to this medical condition.

Additionally, those with medical conditions such as diabetes, carpal tunnel syndrome, and other rheumatoid or musculoskeletal diseases are at an increased risk of developing this ailment [3].

There are several closely-related hand injuries that gamers may experience with similar pathophysiology. One such condition affects the base of the thumb and is known as gamer’s thumb. When the inflammation occurs in the tendon of the wrist, this brings about another condition that gamers may develop, known as wrist tendonitis.

Symptoms of Trigger Finger

During the early stages of the disease, you may experience some painless clicking when maneuvering your fingers. As the disease progresses, you may notice painful and uncomfortable clicking and popping whenever you bend or extend your fingers [4].

Additionally, other common symptoms include swelling and stiffness in the joints, with the possibility of waking up with a locked digit that gradually loosens throughout the day. If continued deterioration occurs, you may even require passive manipulation to extend your fingers completely. Some patients try to avoid painful triggering by minimizing the use of any affected digits [4].

In general cases, the trigger finger most commonly affects the ring finger, followed by the thumb (trigger thumb), and more frequently involves the dominant hand. But in the case of gamers, it may affect your right hand, which is used to grip the mouse during gameplay.

How Trigger Finger Can Affect Gaming

The painless clicking or mild discomfort experienced by some gamers at the early stages of this ailment are often disregarded and seen as a mild inconvenience or annoyance. Hence, many do not seek help or treatment and continue with prolonged hours of gaming and practice despite these warning symptoms.

However, doing so may leave you vulnerable to a range of hand injuries. In the case of trigger finger and trigger thumb, you may experience a creaking sensation and discomfort when moving your fingers. Additionally, the affected digit can become locked, and passive extension of this digit can cause significant pain [5].

As a result, you may notice a decreased range of motion and reduced ability to grip or control your mouse. At the same time, the pain and discomfort could impede your movements and become a distraction while gaming.

Cumulatively, this will dampen gameplay performance, especially if the video game requires accurate and succinct mouse movement. If the disease has progressed far enough, you may have to put your gaming career on the shelf for a while to better foster healing and recovery.

Trigger finger isn’t the only condition that affects your flexibility and mobility when gaming. Something as simple as having cold hands may have a similar effect, so feel free to check out our guide on how to warm up your hands for gaming.

Trigger Finger Treatment and Prognosis In Gamers

Acute trigger finger is usually treated with anti-inflammatory medications such as NSAIDs, immobilization, and ice application. If symptoms persist, a corticosteroid injection can be given to remedy the swelling and inflammation. After two corticosteroid injections fail to produce the desired relief, surgery is the next course of treatment [3].

Splinting is another non-pharmacological treatment option for trigger finger. A study has shown that this method helps alleviate pain, slow disease progression, and reduce the occurrence of trigger finger events [6].

Understandably, it’s easy to be engrossed and focused on your training sessions, especially if you’re a professional esports player. But the risk of sustaining overuse injuries further exemplifies the importance of breaking up prolonged gaming periods with some rest and exercise.

Ultimately, you want to prevent any physical damage or harm that could cripple your career progress. On top of that, if you’ve started experiencing the characteristic features of this medical condition, it’s best to seek professional treatment and advice the soonest you can.


In short, trigger finger is a common overuse injury resulting from repetitive and forceful finger movements, which is often seen in gaming. If you’re active in the competitive gaming scene, preventing such injuries is key to a successful esports career.

Whether you’re diligently training to win a tournament trophy or enjoy casual gaming for extended durations, taking care of your health is a crucial pillar that cannot be neglected. At the first sign of any worrying symptoms, it’s best to consult your healthcare professional to discover the underlying cause and receive any necessary treatment before irreversible damage occurs.

Disclaimer: This is an educational post on trigger finger in esports gaming. 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.