Understanding Gamer's Thumb, Prevention, and Treatment

Gamer's Thumb involves the inflammation of the fluid-filled sheath or tunnel (called the synovium) that surrounds the two tendons that control movement of the thumb. You may hear it referred to as flexor tenosynovitis, stenosing tenosynovitis, de Quervain's tenosynovitis (dih-kwer-VAINS ten-oh-sine-oh-VIE-tis), or de Quervain syndrome... or "video game thumb pain."

Two common stenosing tenosyonvitis diagnoses are:

  • DeQuervain's Syndrome - this involves the first dorsal compartment of the wrist, and we will cover this in this article
  • Trigger finger - this occurs when a fibrous nodule develops in the digital flexor tendon, as covered in this related article

Symptoms of Gamer's Thumb

Locking, clicking, and pain is felt in on the front of the thumb ("fingerprint" down to palm) and / or on the back of the thumb (fingernail down to wrist).

de Quervain's tenosynovitis is associated with a number of activities, such as:

  • Use of gaming console
  • Keyboard use
  • Texting (hence "texting thumb")
  • Knitting
  • Carrying a baby (hence "mother's wrist" and "mommy thumb")
  • Golf
  • Racket Sports

Gamer's Thumb Treatment

  • Rest! Meaning avoid the activities that cause pain and swelling; repetitive motion may irritate the sheath around the two tendons, causing them to thicken and swell. You may be able to resolve the issue by curtailing these motions. That means TAKE A BREAK!
  • Physical Therapy
  • Anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen
  • Corticosteroid injection
  • Surgery

Preventing Gamers Thumb

    • Limit time spent gaming / texting / etc
    • Exercise your thumb during regular breaks
    • Soak thumb in warm water during regular breaks
    • Acupuncture
    • Foam rolling may help too - RistRoller® users say just a few minutes help keep their thumbs, fingers, and wrists feeling great


Demo of the RistRoller® 
(Demo video has no audio, so please hum the Tetris theme while you watch.)

Exercises to Prevent Gamers Thumb

In addition to "rolling out" your thumb, hand and wrist, for the purpose of taking a relaxing mini-massage break, watch below! Dr. Levi Harrison shows how to do some Double Gamer Thumb Prevention Exercises, like bringing your thumb up and down (make you thumb touch your palm and then open back up), making fists, rotating your thumb "around the world," and more. Watch all of these exercises in the video below:



Further Reading on de Quervain's


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