De Quervain tenosynovitis is a painful condition affecting the tendons on the thumb side of the wrist and is a common diagnosis in the field of esports medicine. People usually feel pain while doing repetitive hand and wrist movements like the movements seen in mobile gaming. When holding a phone sideways, our wrist gets in a dorsiflexion position with slight ulnar deviation. Staying in this position for long hours puts stress on the area that is present in de Quervain’s disease.
The present study assessed the relationship between the incidence of de Quervain’s disease (DD) and mobile gaming. The study was a cross-sectional study and included 500 students aged 16–20 years who voluntarily provided valid data on their mobile game playing habits.
Finkelstein’s test was performed by 2 different physiotherapists and the students with positive test results then directed to complete a specific task, including pinching, griping, and buttoning with the possible response of either difficulty or no difficulty. Out of all 3 tasks, students mainly responded having difficulty with pinching in the last 2 weeks.
The positive rate of Finkelstein’s test was 63% among the students who played mobile games with their wrists in the dorsiflexion position. The mean duration of mobile gaming was 3.7 ± 2.3 hours for those with a positive result in Finkelstein’s test results. Screen size of the phones were also questioned but no statistical significance was found.
One limitation of the study was that all of the responders were students in school. Therefore, the conclusion could not be generalized to other population settings, such as officers, blue-collar workers, and others.
Overall statistical analyses showed that more frequent play, prolonged mobile gaming time per day, and changes in wrist position were significantly correlated with the positive rate of Finkelstein’s test.
The main outcome and consideration points for coaches and support staff from this study include:
1. Considering the study found 3.7 ± 2.3 hours of game play per day for those with a positive result in Finkelstein’s test, it can be predicted professional level gamers are also likely to get positive Finkelstein’s test results.
2. With the position of the hand, factors such as high-intensity wrist activity rather than mobile gaming and prolonged computer use can also increase tendon activities and lead to DD. Athletes should also provide information on their daily activities outside of their training hours.
3. Students recruited in this study used different mobile phone models but only screen size was considered. Thickness and weight of the phones players use should also be questioned.
4. Esports medicine staff responsible of the athletes health can help with ergonomic support and get them ready for in-season overuse activities including wrist with some strengthening exercises in advance.
Source : Ma, T., Song, L., Ning, S., Wang, H., Zhang, G., & Wu, Z. (2019). Relationship between the incidence of de Quervain’s disease among teenagers and mobile gaming. International orthopaedics, 43(11), 2587–2592. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00264-019-04389-9
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