Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Can you get carpal tunnel syndrome from playing video games?"
I'm 22 and a big time video game player. I play like 6 hours a day and I'm worried about my hands and wrists. I know you can get carpal tunnel syndrome from computer use, but can you get it from video games too? What exactly causes it?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is so named because of a median neuropathy, for reasons unknown, which results in tingling, numbness, burning in the thumb, index finger, and middle finger on the affected side. There is an anatomic structure in your wrist called the "carpal tunnel" made up of the carpal bones (wrist bones), a transverse carpal ligament, nine flexor tendons, and the median nerve. The tendons are what attach muscles in your arm/forearm to the bones of your hands to move the hand and/or fingers. Some theorize that swelling in one or more of these tendons results in the compression of the other structures going through this relatively narrow anatomic space (hence the name "tunnel"). This includes the median nerve. Nerves as you are probably aware, don't like to be irritated or compressed. Pressure on the nerve can cause it to work abnormally, or to stop working altogether. This explains the symptoms. Some argue that it is the position of the wrists during repetitive movements that plays a key role in the development of the disorder (carpal tunnel syndrome). One surgical treatment is to over the "roof" of the tunnel which is to cut the tranverse carpal ligament which releases a lot of the pressure. It is within reason to think that it is possible to develop carpal tunnel as a result of the repetitive movements associated with playing video games frequently and for long periods of time. However, every patient is different, and no one will be able to tell you for sure if you will or will not develop it. If you develop any of the symptoms, I would recommend talking to your primary care physician and perhaps getting a referral to see a hand specialist. I hope this is helpful, and I wish you all the best.
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