Common Musculoskeletal Injuries in eSports
eSports is a form of virtual or competitive electronic gaming that has been growing at a rapid pace worldwide, and eSport players, just like other athletes, are susceptible to various overuse injuries. These injuries appear similar to conditions seen in desk jobs, particularly due to the nature of the game itself, requiring extended periods of sedentary sitting with a poor postural orientation of the body, causing musculoskeletal imbalances that involve the upper and lower limbs, as well as the back.
Exercise deficit disorder has been described in the gaming community and refers to reduced levels of physical activity that does not meet the current public health recommendations of at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day. Even if an eSport athlete finds time and complies with this recommendation by the American College of Sports Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sitting for prolonged periods may eventually cause injuries to various parts of the body and, therefore, inflict pain.
This article summarizes some of the common injuries sustained in eSports and video gaming.
INJURIES AT THE SHOULDERThe Mouse Shoulder
Holding a PC mouse with the shoulder and the elbow held in flexion can strain the muscle that supports the outstretched arm, primarily the long head of the biceps brachii, causing bicipital tendinosis and presents as burning or deep aching pain and discomfort in front of the shoulder.
Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
Faulty posture may cause tightness of various neck and chest muscles, specifically the scalene and pectoralis minor, compressing the neurovascular tissues about the neck and axilla and resulting in neurological and vascular symptoms. The most common of all the types of TOS is neurologic which involves compression of the brachial plexus and results in numbness or tingling sensation in the arm, pain in the neck, shoulder, and hand, muscle wasting in the hand, and weakness of handgrip.
INJURIES AT THE ELBOW
The Mouse Elbow
Known to tennis as the tennis elbow, both conditions refer to an overuse injury to the common extensor tendon at its origin on the lateral epicondyle – such term as lateral epicondylosis. Repetitive microtrauma can lead to degeneration of the extensor origin and subsequent failure of the tendon. As the name implies, PC gamers are more prone to this condition due to the use of a computer mouse. Frequent lifting of the fingers off the mouse, as well as off the keyboard, repeatedly pulls the common extensor tendon from its origin, creating irritation and degeneration. Symptoms include lateral elbow pain, which is aggravated with wrist and finger extension, as well as lack of strength and function of the elbow and wrist, including weakness of handgrip.
Medial elbow pain is caused by the irritation of the common flexor origin at the medial epicondyle of the humerus. Repetitive use of the finger flexors when pressing the triggers and bumpers, as well as the wrist flexors when gripping the controller strains the flexor muscles at its common origin. It is characterized by medial elbow pain and tenderness at the flexor/pronator tendinous origin. Other symptoms include pain on forearm pronation and wrist flexion, and also a weakness of handgrip.
The Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
Direct contact or impact to the ulnar nerve at the inside of the elbow about the region of the medial epicondyle results in tingling and numbness on the inner side of the forearm and the hand, with weakness in the wrist and finger flexion. Gamers often rest their elbows on the armrests, causing compression of the nerve within the cubital tunnel, thus the name. frequent elbow flexion also triggers the condition as the ulnar nerve is impinged between the two heads of the flexor carpi ulnaris muscle.
INJURIES AT THE WRIST
The Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Gamers often complain of wrist pain with associated numbness and tingling sensation in the hand, which can be an indication of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. It is caused by impingement or irritation of the median nerve at the base of your hand about the wrist, causing inflammation and triggering the symptoms. Carpal tunnel syndrome is frequently seen in people who spend a lot of time using a computer, like a PC gamer.
De Quervain's Tenosynovitis
A prolonged playing with video games irritates the abductor pollicis longus (APL) and extensor pollicis brevis (EPB) tendons due to the repetitive thumb and wrist movements. Grasping of the joystick controller produces tension on the APL and EPB tendons, and thus causing de Quervain's stenosing tenosynovitis.
INJURIES AT THE BACK
The usual slouch posture makes a gamer prone to back issues, particularly in the low back area. Sitting for too long hours stretches the back muscles and eventually weaken them, promoting the development of back pain. The lower back is the most often affected, but the neck and upper back can hurt as well.
THE UPPER AND LOWER-CROSSED SYNDROMES
MOVE FREQUENTLY TO AVOID INJURY AND USE RECOVAPRO
The feeling of sore muscles or stiff and painful joints are usual signs of overuse. Repetitive movements can build up tension in various parts of the body.To relieve the stresses on these affected areas, try to move them as frequently as possible. If you’re feeling fatigued or slight pain, stand and shake those tension off from your joints and muscles. Moving the part can enhance the circulation in the area and replenishes the nutrients depleted during long hours of gaming. While this can provide short-term pain relief, having a Recovapro massage gun at hand all the time can provide a better effect that is more sustained.