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Avoid ‘Gamer’s thumb’

Photo: Riska/iStockphoto

Your daughter has been playing a video game for hours. Later, she comes to you and says her hand and wrist hurt.

The likely culprit? “Gamer’s thumb.”

Also known as Dequervain’s tenosynovitis, gamer’s thumb is “a condition that causes pain, stiffness and a sensation of pain with thumb and wrist motion,” says the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. “Symptoms may show up after extensive use of the hand and wrist, and patients may have swelling or a tender lump at the thumb side of the wrist. Another condition, trigger finger, involves a catching, popping or locking sensation with finger movement accompanied by pain or a tender spot in the palm.”

The AAOS says you can help prevent gamer’s thumb by:
Taking a break. Set up and enforce screen time limits.
Getting active. Encourage your child to exercise their upper body and core to “take the strain off the smaller muscles of the hand and arm.”
Promoting good posture. “Slouching on the couch feels relaxing, but in the long run, it can cause aches and pains in the back, neck and arms,” the AAOS says. When your child is playing a video game, remind them to keep their back in a normal, slightly arched posture. If possible, have them sit in a chair that supports their lower back and keeps their head and shoulders upright.
Calling it quits. When the pain sets in, it’s time for your child to put down the game controller. If the pain persists, they can try wearing a splint at night, the AAOS suggests. “This can keep the affected thumb or finger in a straight position and prevent further injury.”

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