PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Thursday is National Video Games Day. The day recognizes the creation of the popular pastime, but playing too much can be dangerous.
Gaming and esports have soared in popularity in recent years and while gaming is not a traditional athletic sport, gaming athletes can also get injured.
It may look passive — physically anyway — but doctors say playing video games can cause injuries.
“Some of the injuries that we look at are overuse injuries of the hand, such as tendinitis, both of the flexor tendons and the extensor tendons,” sports medicine physician Dr. Dominic King said. “We also see things like carpal tunnel syndrome, as well as overuse in the elbow and in the shoulder.”
Esports athletes can also have strains in the neck and back area, plus problems with eye strain. Doctors say injuries vary depending on the position the gamer is playing in — whether they’re sitting, standing or lying down. What kind of system is being played — a console, virtual reality or computers — also impacts injuries.
Most people tend to develop issues when they ignore symptoms, doctors say. Just like any other athletes, esports gamers should listen to their bodies.
“If you’re playing a game and you feel soreness in your wrists or in your hand, or if you feel numbness or tingling, or you feel soreness in your neck or your shoulders, you need to take a break. Do some stretches, get up, walk around and then come back,” King said.
Doctors say parents probably don’t need to worry too much about their kids getting injured from regular gaming since the injuries are still pretty rare and typically only impact professional gamers who put in a lot of hours.
One of the most common conditions related to excessive video game use is an inflammation of the tendons that connect the wrist to the thumb. It’s often called “gamer’s thumb,” which is caused by rapid repetitive thumb movement. That can also happen with people who text a lot.