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How to Stay Healthy While Gaming

Gaming can be exactly what you need when you need it. Gaming helps socialize, bring entertainment and leave your worries as you travel into another world. Since gaming is less physical than other activities, there are concerns for the physical as well as mental health of gamers. I myself am no medical professional, but I am a long-time gamer who has dealt with many of these issues. This article is only meant to be an educational guide, but is no replacement for seeing your primary care physician for solving or preventing these problems.

Common Health Concerns in Gamers

There are multiple health concerns for gamers, but luckily, there are also many ways to prevent or treat these health concerns.

Common concerns include:

  • Carpal Tunnel

  • Tendonitis

  • Piriformis Syndrome (Sciatica)

  • Eye strain

Carpal Tunnel & Tendonitis

Carpal tunnel and tendonitis are both concerns for gamers, as they are constantly using their wrists and hands for long periods at a time. Usage of a keyboard and mouse for prolonged periods has not been proven to cause either of these conditions. There is conflicting evidence suggesting that using a computer does cause these issues, but has not been proven at this time; however, computer usage can worsen the symptoms. If you think you have carpal tunnel syndrome or tendonitis, you should consult your doctor on a treatment plan.

Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve in the wrist bone becomes pinched or compressed. Common symptoms include tingling or numbness, pain and weakness.

Tendonitis is an inflammation or irritation of a tendon. There are many different tendons in the hand that can become inflamed or irritated. Tendonitis is usually caused by repetition of a specific movement, but can also be caused by a specific injury as well. Common symptoms are pain similar to a dull ache, tenderness and mild swelling.

Some things you can do to prevent injury would be to:

Piriformis Syndrome (Sciatica)

Sitting for long periods is a risk factor for Piriformis Syndrome, also known as Sciatica. Gamers commonly sit for hours on their couch or at a desk while they play video games, which causes them to be more at risk for developing Sciatica. The sciatic nerve is the biggest nerve in the body that provides motor control from the hips all the way down to the foot. Like other nerve pain, Sciatica is a pain that radiates anywhere down the sciatic nerve pathway. You should see a doctor if you are concerned about having Sciatica, but especially if the pain is severe.

Some things you can do to prevent injury would be to:

  • Correct posture, which can be aided with

    • Foot rest

    • Chair with added lumbar support

  • Stretches

  • Standing at least once per hour

Eye Strain

Eye strain does not have long-term or serious complications, but is notable as it can impact gaming. Eye strain occurs for many reasons, but in gamers it is commonly caused by prolonged usage of a device with blue light. Eye strain can cause your eyes to become tired, dry, irritated, and can decrease your concentration.

Some things you can do to prevent eye strain would be to:

  • Use blue light glasses when using a screen

    • Some prescription manufacturers can build in blue light protection to your prescription glasses

  • Take a break once an hour by staring at something 30 feet away for 30 seconds

  • Widen the distance between you and the screen

As mentioned before, I am no medical professional. But as a long time gamer, I have experienced many of these issues. Bringing to light the various ailments that can affect gamers allows everyone to be more aware of what their body is telling them, and to stay safe and healthy during those long gaming periods. Do not hesitate to talk to a doctor if your symptoms are severe, and take care of yourself!

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