Carpal Tunnel Craziness

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Adam "The Fly" LaMosca recently wrote Aches, Pains, Aging, and Gaming an excellent essay for Gamers with Jobs. It deals with the physical side effects of gaming, focusing on carpal tunnel in particular.

Here's a sample:

It gets me thinking. I'm only 32 years old but sometimes my body protests and complains in ways it never did before. The afflictions of the aged once seemed an impossibility, yet now, as my parents buy reading glasses and take longs walks instead of jogging, I realize that I'm just a single generation removed from those everyday ailments that rearrange peoples' lives. I consider such things as hyperopia and arthritis and the inevitable slowing of body and perhaps mind and I wonder, will I always play games?

The full article is worth a read and it really made me think. I've had carpal tunnel of some kind for around 8 years now and am hesistant to get the surgery so soon (I'm only 24); I tend to space out my computer time throughout the day to fight it. While I'm confident gaming is going to always be a part of my life, it did make me think about carpal tunnel a bit more than I usually do.

Aches, Pains, Aging, and Gaming

Comments

forcefield58
Offline
Joined: 05/19/2006
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

My cousin had it and had to have both hands operated on. She still feels pain after typing alot, of course that's her job. I had issues a couple years ago but made my office get me the gel pads for he wrists and mouse hand. It must suck to have it so bad that you have to have the operation!

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Mat Tschirgi (not verified)
Mine is better than it used

Mine is better than it used to be. It was at its worst about 3 months ago when my dayjob involved heavy computer use, working at an eBay store. Since most of my hobbies revolve around the computer, and I have a gig on the side writing reviews and producing a podcast for Played to Death, it can become difficult at times.

I have it under some control and am considering getting the velcro wrist braces to help. Once, in college, I was lifting weights and lifting a hand weight that was too heavy and hurt the hell out of my wrist. My girlfriend at the time lent me her wrist braces and I wore them for a week while limiting my computer use and things fixed up nicely.

I'd like to hear Mark's thoughts on what he thinks about carpal tunnel...
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=- Mat Tschirgi =- Armchair Arcade Editor
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Bill Loguidice
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Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
My Carpal Tunnel/Joint Damage Story

I'm 33 at present and have been bodybuilding since about 15. I've been using computers and eventually mice much longer than that (I think I started around age 7, with videogames a bit sooner, not counting toddler Pong). After college and in the workforce, it did in fact take a significant toll on my wrists, particulary with heavy typing and mouse use as part of a full work day. I eventually had to switch to natural keyboards (the split kind) and thumb trackballs instead of regular keyboards and mice. It took a little time to get used to, but it's what stopped me from getting full-blown carpal tunnel syndrome. I feel it has even helped to reverse the damage as it has had time to heal, even though I'm on the computer these days as much as ever. I'm even able to use regular keyboards and mice on occasion when I have to, though I do try to keep that to a minimum.

As for the working out, heavy lifting is tough on the joints. I use joint supplements to help combat that and that helps considerably. Connective tissue is very sensitive and there's no reason not to use regenerative supplements for that. After all these years of heavy lifting, the only negative effect has been on my back, for which I go to a chiropractor regularly now. It's possible though that I didn't originally injure it at the gym, but regardless, I have to stretch it out regularly and I don't go as heavy on compound movements anymore, like squats. No big deal really.

Finally, with gaming, it depends on the type of game played and the controller. For instance, I can make my hands/wrists go numb/bruise my fingers/etc. when playing something like Fight Night Round 3, be it on the Xbox 360 or PSP. Certain games require movements that for whatever don't sit well with my particular structure. Another thing is that my home arcade panel on my arcade cabinet has a relatively steep angle and that can also cause discomfort. Bottom line, the wrists and joints are very sensitive things and one must exhibit common sense and look for ways to minimize or change off on the most repetitive motions (like I did by replacing standard mice and keyboards).

=================================
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director
Armchair Arcade, Inc.
[ My collection ]
[ http://www.MythCore.com ]

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Mat Tschirgi (not verified)
Bill, what kind of

Bill, what kind of regenerative joint supplements would you advise me to try? The only supplements I take now are an all-purpose Men's Vitamin and a Fish Oil pill. My budget isn't huge in terms of supplements, but I'd be willing to try the regen joint supplements.

Thanks!

--------------------------
=- Mat Tschirgi =- Armchair Arcade Editor
Hear my gaming podcasts!

The Super Koopa Troopa Show

Played to Death

Matt Barton
Matt Barton's picture
Offline
Joined: 01/16/2006
Get a Tablet PC Before it's too late

I'm 28 (will be 29 on August 20th if anyone wants to get me a present), and I have definitely been suffering pains in my right wrist (the one I use for mousing). I'm left handed, so that might have something to do with it, but I never could get used to mousing with my left. I've tried the thumb trackballs like Bill has but never got used to them either. In fact, my thumb started to ache worse than my wrist had! I also tried the trackpad thingy and that didn't feel right either.

The only thing I've found that really made a huge difference was my tablet PC. It comes with a pen. Thank God for that pen. No, I don't use it to try to type messages (when you can type 100+ WPM with 0 errors, you don't write by hand). However, it eliminates all those repetitive mouse movements. See something on the far left corner of the screen that needs clicking? Just push it with the pen. No wrist-aching mouse-pushing whatsoever.

Of course, I wouldn't dream of trying to game with the pen, but it's awesome for everything else. It's kind of strange, but I seldom feel pains when I'm just using the mouse for gaming. It's mostly when I'm doing some kind of work (particularly things like grading papers) where the pain really starts to blast.

At any rate, I would strongly recommend that folks suffering from similar problems with the mouse to try a Tablet PC if you can't get used to the thumb trackball. My wife has a Viacom wacom tablet thing, but I couldn't get used to it. The tablet pc is better because you can actually click on the screen (it makes a difference).

I have a Gateway Tablet PC that the school purchased for me, but I'm not sure how it compares to other tablet PCs. The only caveats I have about it is that it's on the heavy side (far too heavy to use comfortably like a clipbord), and it gets very hot in your lap (and not in a good way). If I was shopping for a new one I'd definitely take weight and temperature into consideration.

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Bill Loguidice
Bill Loguidice's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Joint Supplements

They're quite common, luckily. I would look for a formulation with Glucosamine Sulfate, Chondroitin and MSM myself. A double or triple strength tablet variety would be most convenient because you'd only have to take it about twice a day. You should feel a difference in about a week, then it's just a matter of maintenance.

=================================
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director
Armchair Arcade, Inc.
[ My collection ]
[ http://www.MythCore.com ]

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Fighter17 (not verified)
I'm 16 and I hope I don't

I'm 16 and I hope I don't get these problems in the future.

Mark Vergeer
Mark Vergeer's picture
Offline
Joined: 01/16/2006
36 and consider myself very lucky

Wow, I am 36 and I consider myself very lucky. Never had any real carpal tunnel / RSI complaint in my life. But I tend to move around alot whatever I do. Take my hands from the keyboard whenever I am not typing just moving around I guess.... I believe that might actually help prevent such complaints, as a medical doctor turning shrink it's not my specialty but I believe that prolonged use of limbs in the same posture can cause minute circulatory problems or minute injuries because of prolonged pressure on tendons and other body parts resulting in inflammatory responses because of that. Moving around, improving circulation will help prevent such damage.
People - when working behind the computer or playing videogames - tend to become so preoccupied by what they're doing that it's easy to neglet early warning signs from your body such as: discomfort and even pain or stiffness.

"Zu Risiken und Nebenwirkungen lesen Sie die Packungsbeilage oder fragen sie Ihren Artzt oder Apoteker....."

-= Mark Vergeer - Armchair Arcade editor =-

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Mat Tschirgi (not verified)
Thanks; Nice Comments

The Tablet PC option is interesting, as is the idea of getting a Wacom Tablet. I like what trackballs I have used, but can't imagine gaming with them. I can't afford a laptop right now, but have been noodling around to get one for quite over five years, though I wouldn't use it for my audio/visual studio-- it would mainly be a "writing/surfing" computer. ;)

Thanks for the tips, Mark. The one thing I read online that helped a lot was to soak my wrists in warm water if they are really acting up-- this, combined with me taking more computer breaks than I used to tends to help some. I do get the CPS more in my right wrist than in the left and it's a problem that is sometimes compounded by a light tremor I inherited from one of my uncles, although the tremor comes and goes. Once I move and get a job from where I can get medical insurance, I am definitely going to get see a doctor to see what they advise--I don't want to jump right into surgery, but it's an option for later down the road.

--------------------------
=- Mat Tschirgi =- Armchair Arcade Editor
Hear my gaming podcasts!

The Super Koopa Troopa Show

Played to Death

Lynette (not verified)
Carpal Tunnel Relief

We have developed a new massage product for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS).
We are currently involved with a case study, which is showing great success. We have seen improvements with Carpal Tunnel Symptoms within a few weeks of using the Carpal Roller. For more information go to our website www.carpalroller.com

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