Two Gamer Thumbs Up: De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis

Also known as radial styloid tenosynovitis, but dubbed “Gamer’s Thumb” due to its propensity to afflict the esports population. Repetitive, extended use of the delicate pulley system that controls your thumb can lead to inflammation and injury to your tendons (tissue that connects muscle to bone). This ailment tends to affect controller players more than PC, and often presents as pain and swelling along the base of the thumb, near your wrist.

Controller gaming places stress on your thumbs, given all we have to move are two small sticks of plastic rather than an entire keyboard. (Aim assist, just saying).

Diagnosis is relatively simple, and can be done at home with an easy test.

Treatment can be tricky, and usually involves lifestyle modifications to reduce thumb movement, which can mean sidelining your gaming career (or preventing you from playing Halo: Combat Evolved for the entire launch weekend). Severe cases may even require surgery.

The good news? Prevention is much easier.

Allow your fingers and wrist to warm up adequately before any big matches, remember to take frequent breaks, and check out our YouTube page for esports specific stretches and drills. If the pain doesn’t go away, make an appointment with a sports medicine doctor, physiatrist, or orthopedic hand surgeon.

But seriously, go subscribe to our channel.

Thanks to Dr. P for her dedicated legwork (thumbwork?) in putting this article together.

This article is intended for educational purposes only, and does not constitute medical advice. Also, if your only source of health care is an internet doctor, you probably put pineapple on your pizza.

The Science of Gaming