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Hey guys, I’ve been a long time lurker at TL and I felt a need to connect with my fellow SC nerds. But, I don’t see the point of posting random crap from my day so I figured I’d try to post something that might be useful. I’m a physical therapy student and have two friends with carpal tunnel who I play SC a lot with. I figured for their benefit, and anyone else who has carpal tunnel, I’d post this as a blog. Please keep in mind I’m just a student and therefore anything and everything in this article COULD be total bullshit though to minimize that I found websites to get my information from which relatively secure sources. Hope it helps some of you guys and if you appreciate it please let me know! Also, I might do more like this with hopefully helpful information so if you like the quality of this work and would like more like it PLEASE let me know!
What is ACTUALLY happening?
Carpal tunnel is primarily caused by a nerve called the “median nerve”. This nerve runs from forearm to the hand. It can become pressed or squeezed at the wrist. This nerve controls all the sensations for the palm side of your hand including your thumb and all your fingers except for your little finger. This nerve is actually inside of a “tunnel” which is called the carpal tunnel. It’s aptly named because it’s inside of a tunnel in the carpal bones of your hand. When your tendons become irritated or swollen in the carpal tunnel, they can pinch the median nerve and therefore cause it to be compressed/painful.
Do you have it?
Obviously, pain in the hands/wrists is the best indicator to if you have carpal tunnel. You may feel severe numbness, or you may feel like your hands are “weak” and feel useless. Feeling like your hands are swollen is another common feeling even if no swelling is noticeable. Tingling or feeling a need to shake your hands out for no apparent reason are other symptoms. Many times, these symptoms will actually start first thing in the morning though not always.
What causes it?
To fix a problem, you first obviously need to determine where it’s coming from. The good news is that in most cases, the problem is JUST pinching the nerve and NOT an actual problem with the nerve itself. This means if you can figure out how to not pinch the nerve, tada! Problem solved! While there isn’t that much actual clinical DATA supporting computer use being a cause of carpal tunnel, I believe when you take into account how many computer game players get it it’s obviously a cause. Other causes can include lots of use with powertools (or vibrating machinery), weightlifting with poor wrist form and a lot of manual labor jobs.
If you suspect you have carpal tunnel!
An early trip to the doctor IS recommended as carpal tunnel CAN become VERY severe. So, if you have these symptoms going to a doctor is recommended. Luckily, computer use does not usually result in the most severe cases of carpal tunnel. So if you’re a low-budget not-worried-about-severe-damage type of guy, hopefully the tips shown here will help you.
All this is great if you have carpal tunnel, but what if you don’t and you just don’t want to get it? For computer usage, the obvious solution is good posture/good wrist position while using the computer. It’s especially important IMO to develop this into a deeply rooted habit if you’re playing SC or SC2 or any other fast-paced computer game so when you’re really focusing on micro/macro you keep good posture without thinking about it.
What to do if you have it!
If you don’t want to go to the doctor or get surgery, the best solution is some simple quick stretches for pain prevention (the more ideal choice IMO) so!
Here they are:
1. Straighten your arm and GENTLY pull your fingers back and away from your palm (so towards your face) make sure to RELAX your wrists and fingers. This is a gentle, soothing stretch, you’re not trying to break your fingers here. Pull back as far as you’re comfortable and gently hold for 5 seconds. Repeat on other hand.
2. GENTLY pull your thumb towards your chest (arm still straight) and hold for 5 seconds. If done right, you should feel it gently stretch, no jerking or pain or pulling sensations. These should be easy.
3. Stand up and put both hands palms facing down on top of a desk or table with your fingers facing each other. Both your thumbs will be facing your body. Gently push down with your arms straight so your wrists bend backwards. Your palms do not leave the table but your wrists are flexed. For more flexible individuals, spread your hands further apart.
4. Stick your arms straight out in front of you with your palms facing down and make fists with both hands. Flex your wrists DOWNWARD while holding your fists. Hold for five seconds. So imagine your arm is extended like punching someone, but you flex your wrist DOWNWARD.
5. Gently and SLOWLY pull each of your fingers. Wrist should be kept straight and fingers straight as well. Cracking or loud noises are okay in this case because the exercise is done in proper anatomical fashion and won’t cause any other medical conditions. Cracking your knuckles or other such things can cause arthritis since you are fucking with your hand in improper fashion.
All these are just exercises designed to help. If you don’t like them or feel like you need them then go ahead and only do the ones you are comfortable with. On the other hand, doing them all is fine as well. These can be done several times a day. Hope this helps!
Keep in mind I’m just a student and I used the internet+my own knowledge to fill this out. I am not a medical professional and all this information is subject to your judgement. If you are more knowledgable on the subject or feel something I have posted is incorrect or unhealthy feel free to say so but please do not bash me since I am NOT a professional!