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Did I just choose between my hands and 8 hrs of TF2? (Carpal tunnel of love question)

Form of Monkey!Form of Monkey! Registered User regular
edited October 2011 in Help / Advice Forum
So a few months ago, I was engrossed in a really heavy gaming session. Bathroom breaks only. Scratch that--just get the poop bucket. How else was this heavy-medic duo on the other team going to learn?! I'm exaggerating of course, but we've all been there.

I retire for the evening, but the next day, I wake up to a dull new pain from my elbow all the way to my hands. The pain would get sharp if I picked up certain objects that put my hands and arms into certain configurations. Like picking up a pitcher would cause pain, but not a toothbrush. I'm a rightie who grabs the mouse claw-grip style in FPS games. When I replicated that motion, the pain would instantly return.

Right now, the dull pain is gone, but the sharper pain will still return with right-handed mouse use, and will localize in the index and middle fingers right at the knuckle at the base of the fingers.

I don't have health insurance right now and can't afford to see a doctor. My way of diagnosing and treating this has been to research it on the web, go easy on my hand, and just hope it heals. Web resources point to carpal tunnel. I'm scared it's true.

Does this sound like an overuse injury that will eventually go away? Does anyone else have similar experiences or diagnoses to share? I'm encouraged to some extent because yes, I have been healing on my own, slowly but surely, for the past two months. But I've never had an injury of any kind last this long before, and it remains an issue even now. I guess my concern is with the possible permanency of this.

Did I just ruin my hands for good? What do I do here?

Posts

  • Hahnsoo1Hahnsoo1 Registered User regular
    edited October 2011
    You aren't going to get carpal tunnel syndrome from a single heavy gaming session. However, you do probably have some sort of median nerve damage from overuse, which is very likely to be transient. Similar to tennis elbow or common golf/baseball injuries, tendonitis and/or median nerve entrapment can cause the symptoms you described (pain in the index/middle/thumb fingers, which are supplied by the median nerve), and it can take weeks or months to heal. If it's healing on its own, it's not something to worry about.

    Consider getting a larger ergonomic mouse to avoid this in the future. Also, a pad on the contact point between your forearm and your desk can help prevent this. I use a second mousepad myself.

    Hahnsoo1 on
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  • EsseeEssee The pinkest of hair. Victoria, BCRegistered User regular
    I get this from time to time (as I also game for a large portion of my day on many days, although I don't do that "claw grip" you describe). Typically, you'll notice that the pain extends down to your elbow, right? What I do to alleviate the pain is spend a goodly amount of time firmly massaging the areas on my hand-- and wrist-- that are affected, then either massaging down the path of the pain on my inner arm (if it shows up there) or massaging the path toward and including the outer joint of my elbow (another place the pain likes to radiate to). I typically make use of my knuckles in massaging my arm because it seems like I need to massage fairly deeply to get at the areas that are causing the pain. Don't hurt yourself, though! I'm very used to how to massage without overdoing it because my mom had fibromyalgia, so be a bit careful until you get used to the right way to do it.

    Other than that, yeah, get some sort of wrist support. This should help immensely. They even sell these crappy mousepads with a bit of a cushion attached to them in dollar stores, and sliding the mousepad part underneath your real mousepad so you're just using the cushion is better than nothing (this is what I'm doing at the moment because I'm broke).

  • RadicalTurnipRadicalTurnip Registered User regular
    This happens to me as well, occasionally...I never even researched it (probably never got quite as bad as yours sounds) but I assumed it was carpal tunnel, afterall, I played a Bard in Everquest back in the days of real twisting (a comment maybe a few of you will remember). Fortunately, I'm a lefty, and it's only ever in my right hand. All of that being said, I've found that "stretching" the affected areas helps: both before a gaming-session, and while it's hurting (and I suppose during if you think about it). Well, good luck, keep us up to date.

  • spool32spool32 Contrary Library Registered User regular
    edited October 2011
    I spent 6 months with my arms aching from elbow to fingers every morning. When I'd wake up, both wrists would pop several times. Strange motions would cause surprising pain. These are the things that I did to defeat the exact thing you're suffering through.

    One: switched to an ergo keyboard: the Microsoft Natural Ergo 4000 in my case, It has a soft wrist rest and an elevated ergo shape.
    Two: switched to a Logitech Performance MX mouse. The shape is curved and fits my hand perfectly.

    It took me about 3 weeks to recover my typing speed. I'm about 20% faster now than I ever was on a normal keyboard. Within a week, without changing my use patterns whatsoever, all the pain vanished. Now, I have no problems but if I use a standard keyboard and mouse for more than a couple of days in a row, the pain returns.

    So I suggest you ditch your mouse and keyboard, and relearn to use ergo versions with wrist support and a natural shape that conforms to the relaxed resting position of your hands. If you use a computer at yor office, talk to HR about buying you these things at work as well. They're required to do so if your company has more than 75 people and you request it.

    spool32 on
  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    What spool said. Learn to raise your wrists and not wrest them on the table too. I place my keyboard at the edge of my desk specifically because of this bad habit most people do.

  • LewieP's MummyLewieP's Mummy Registered User regular
    I have had to have carpal tunnel surgery twice on my right hand. I almost crashed my car cos I couldn't turn the steering wheel as my hand had gone numb (left hand=Poland's syndrome so not much practical use). The surgery helped, but I can't have any more, as the scarring can cause problems. I have to use voice activated software to type, and using a mouse lots makes my hand go numb temporarily.
    I'm saying this to warn you, it can be pretty serious. Take frequent breaks, do hand/wrist exercises, maybe think about getting wrist splints to support your wrists.

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  • marz_1982marz_1982 Registered User regular
    Have a look at your desk and how you're sitting when you play. When I had a tiny little computer desk, and a chair that was too low or my arm wasn't properly supported, I started getting very bad carpal tunnel. Taking it easy, having frequent rest breaks, and altering my position helped a lot. Just google ergonomics and best wrist/elbow positions and see if your environment isn't causing problems.

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