Wii-itis. Xbox thumb. PS3 wrist. Guitar Hero elbow. All common injuries and most you have probably never heard of or would admit to having. As we near the holiday season and presents are flowing, I started to think about common injuries or conditions that might occur. We used to only have to worry about over-eating and wrapping paper cuts during the holidays but in today’s technology soaked world, injuries due to video games are a real threat. Many kids and the young at heart are requesting Nintendo Wii, Xbox, or Play Station gaming systems this holiday season. I myself am a huge fan of video games and as I wrote out my own list to Santa, I made sure to add a few Xbox games to get me through the long, boring winter. You may think that I am making up Wii-itis and I guess I can see why. It just sounds ridiculous. But, like any activity, overuse or unexpected use can lead to injuries. With Xbox and PS, you have the risk of hand and wrist injuries. But with the new Wii consoles, you are now adding in potential elbow and shoulder injuries. And for all you Guitar Hero fans out there take heed, a well known relief pitcher in the MLB missed 3 games during the playoffs due to overplaying the popular game. Everyone wants to be a rock star…even professional athletes. Who knew?
For the couch potatoes of the world, this new development of video gaming injuries presents an interesting problem. People are waking up in the morning with shoulder and wrist pain that they weren’t expecting. Don’t be fooled. These pains are not just reserved for the inactive population. I’m sad to say that after a particularly long night of Halo 2 with my brothers I had a little pain and fatigue in my thumb and wrist. It may sound a little pathetic to those who have never had epic alien battles but to the video game enthusiast population, I think you feel my pain. To make myself feel (and sound) better, I’ll tell you that I am an active individual. I love sports but I also enjoy a good video game shooting spree against a bunch of unsuspecting aliens. I make a living as a Certified Athletic Trainer at the university level. I see rotator cuff tendonitis, lateral epicondylitis, and De Quervain’s tenosynovitis quite frequently. (Okay, De Quervain’s not so frequently but it is a real injury and it sounds impressive, right?!) And I know that those injuries, while they aren’t as serious as some, can be debilitating.
Tendonitis and other overuse injuries are often characterized by pain and inflammation of the underlying structures. It usually has a gradual onset that takes some time to develop. But it is also possible to have minor strains or micro-traumas of the muscles while playing video games. This “micro” damage to the muscles can produce pain even after what most would consider minimal activity. While these may sound like minor injuries, they can still be quite painful.
Treatment for overuse injuries is fairly simple but typically difficult for most people to follow. Are you ready for my miracle cure? Rest and ice/cold pack. That’s it. If you have access to therapeutic modalities (like in a Physical Therapy clinic, Hospital, or Athletic Training room), then you know that there are a few other options. But for you at home, rest and ice (about 15-20 minutes at a time at least once a day, more if you can) will help. Now you may be asking yourself, does that mean that the gaming console has to be put away? I’d say no. But it really depends on how much pain you are in. If the pain is affecting other aspects of your life or is hindering your gaming, then that should tell you your answer. My “official” recommendation would be to decrease the amount you are playing or perhaps decreasing the intensity of your games.
My disclaimer: I am not a doctor and every injury is different so if my recommendations aren’t working for you or if the problem persists for an extended period of time…go see a doctor.
Video gaming injuries aren’t just reserved for physically inactive people. Some oif these games will use muscles that you might not typically workout at the gym and even if you do workout, there is always the possibility of overuse. Wii-itis will become more and more prevalent and until they make a Wii workout or a Wii fitness training class at a local gym near you, you’ll just have to wing it.
Oh…Wii workout, that’s a good one. Patent pending. J
“Video Gamers…represent! I’d love to see some comments about this!”
~ Missync MS, ATC, LAT ~