Flappy birds, Angry Birds, Candy Crush and Temple Run are just a few of the addicting games being obsessively played in today’s world. Throw in Xbox, Wii and non-stop texting and keyboarding and you have a generation spending hours a day on gaming devices, smart phones and keyboards. This constant use and motion has led to an increase over the past few years in the number of people complaining of aches and pains in their fingers, thumbs and hands – leaving many to wonder if gaming can cause arthritis?
This pain and stiffness may be the result of a Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI). RSI’s occur when the same motion is repeated over and over again, for a long period of time, causing inflammation in the ligaments and tendons of joints. Some examples of Repetitive Stress Injuries include Bursitis, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Tendinitis and Trigger Finger. The combination of repetitive movements, poor posture and overuse of games, phones and computers, without taking breaks can lead to RSI and the following symptoms.
Symptoms of RSI vary, but can include:
- Pain, aching or tenderness
- Tingling or numbness
The first step in managing your RSI is to identify and modify the task or activity that is causing your symptoms. Other tips for managing RSI include:
- Take frequent breaks and rest
- Use a heat or ice pack on the sore spot
- Take anti-inflammatory painkillers (such as aspirin or ibuprofen)
- Take a contrast bath after extended periods of use to reduce potential swelling and inflammation
- Immobilize the area with a support or splint
If your symptoms persist and you continue to experience pain, it’s advisable to consult with a health care professional.
One question asked by many is—Can prolonged use and/or RSI’s eventually lead to arthritis? Although constantly used joints of the hand and wrist may be especially susceptible to Osteoarthritis and Inflammatory Arthritis, there is no conclusive evidence to date, that gaming or texting will actually lead to arthritis in later years.
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