Read on to learn about this condition that forced a professional gamer into retirement at age 25, how conventional treatments don’t work long-term, and how a new breakthrough in sports recovery can help settle the score.
While playing video games is a stationary activity - there’s still a level of physical endurance that comes with it. In order to increase skills and play at the highest levels, gamers have to be sure their hands and wrists are in great shape.
That said, one small injury to any part of their hands or wrists could potentially end a professional gamer’s career at such a young age. Which brings us to January 19, 2021 - when pro gamer Thomas “ZooMaa” Paparatto made a Twitter statement announcing his forced retirement from competitive gaming, due to a thumb injury. He was 25 years old at the time.
The injury that abruptly ended ZooMaa’s professional gaming days is De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis or more commonly known as Gamer’s Thumb.
This “thumb injury” may seem minor when you compare it to the brain damage and shattered bones that athletes playing contact sports are exposed to. But the injuries that force players to retire will always be different by the sport they play. And regardless of the comparisons, this meant that ZooMaa was cut off from his professional team. He was cut off from his livelihood.
The condition is not exclusive to gamers. Anyone that puts repetitive strain on the wrist and thumb from actions such as tapping with a stylus, texting or typing can get Gamer’s Thumb.
Symptoms go beyond localized aches and tenderness. People with this condition experience swelling of the wrist; have difficulty flexing their thumb; feel sharp pain when moving their wrist from side to side and are unable to pinch or grasp with their thumb and hand.
Often people think of Gamer’s Thumb as nothing more than a minor annoyance and tend to ignore it. But if left untreated, the tendon sheath could burst which leads to irreversible locking of the tendons. This means you’d be unable to extend your thumb permanently and lose strength in your hand and wrist.
Treatment for gamer’s thumb pain include taking over the counter pain medications (NSAIDs), getting corticosteroid injections, and surgery. While all three undoubtedly provide quick relief from pain - these conventional solutions have downsides.
No type of medication is 100% safe. And this is true of NSAIDs. Taken regularly - as can be expected in someone with chronic pain - side effects include gastrointestinal bleeding severe allergic reactions, liver complications and kidney failure.
Additionally, the easy availability of NSAIDs means a tendency to abuse them. An article by Harvard Medical University stated that 15% of NSAID users take more than the recommended dosage. Users play a dangerous game of Russian Roulette when it comes to numbing pain, all the while failing to address the root cause of the condition.
Corticosteroid injections or more commonly referred to as “cortisone shots” - are effective anti-inflammatory treatments that provide quick pain relief. However, the side effects are a major drawback.
Cortisone is usually combined with a quick-acting pain reliever called Lidocaine and when injected, can clump into crystals which worsens the pain than relieves it. Because the pain relief is short term, patients come in for multiple sessions and repeatedly puncturing the skin can damage it as well as the underlying tissues.
For patients with advanced cases - meaning severe pain and loss of grip strength - surgery is the next treatment option. Recovery from pain and swelling takes about six weeks without assurance that the pain won’t come back.
Which is what happened to Thomas “ZooMaa” Paparatto - who after undergoing thumb surgery - was forced to lose his livelihood because the pain and tenderness in his thumb came back - rendering his hand and wrist useless.
The problem with the three treatment options is while they’re effective at providing quick relief, the pain and weakness still comes back:
NSAIDs - Addresses inflammation for short term pain relief. Side effects include gastrointestinal bleeding, kidney disease and drug dependency.
Cortisone Shots - Minimizes inflammation, but relief is also short term. Pain comes back even worse, requiring multiple injections in an already painful area which can cause skin problems.
Surgery - Minimizes pain by freeing the tendon sheath. Recovery takes several weeks. Costly. Doesn’t guarantee permanent pain relief.
Two out of three treatments only minimize inflammation to relieve pain. While surgery does address the need to break down the adhesions that developed in the tendon sheath, the risks outweigh the benefits of getting the procedure. Why undergo surgery when there’s no assurance the pain won’t come back?
There is however, a more natural remedy that targets the root cause of Gamer’s Thumb and effectively relieves pain: Massage Therapy
Massage therapy is a great complementary or alternative treatment to some of the options we listed. And there are plenty of good reasons for this:
It’s non-invasive - No need to come in for multiple injections in your already painful thumb and wrist. No need for a procedure that will slice your hand open to fix damaged tendons.
No side effects - Unlike taking NSAIDs, You won’t put yourself at risk of side effects that range from allergies to gastrointestinal bleeding and kidney failure.
Relieves soreness and pain - Massage relaxes tight muscles and tendons, which is the cause of Gamer’s Thumb. It also triggers the release of Endorphins which help relieve pain.
Improves blood flow - When blood flows efficiently through the tendons and muscles in your arm and wrist, it can help get rid of waste products quickly. Your muscles and tendons recover from daily strain at a much faster rate allowing for long-term pain relief.
However, getting professional massage therapy on a regular basis can be a challenge for many people. Apart from strict health and safety protocols implemented in spas and physical therapy clinics, professional massage therapy can cost up to a hundred dollars per session.
Fortunately, there’s an alternative and one that you can easily do in the comfort of your home…
Enter the deep tissue massage gun. A handheld muscle recovery device that provides the same benefits as an actual professional massage.
The first of these devices was said to have been invented by chiropractor Dr. Jason Wersland back in 2008 to help him recover from a motorcycle accident. While massage guns have only gained traction in the sports recovery and wellness scene, there’s a good reason they’re becoming a must-have in every person’s pain management routine: they are effective.
As the name implies, percussive therapy massage guns like the HYDRAGUN use percussive action to deliver vibrations deep into muscle tissue. It improves blood flow to break up the adhesions that formed within the tendon sheath in your thumb - stopping the tendons from rubbing against each other.
The result is almost immediate pain relief without the risks of nasty side effects or invasive procedures.
If your thumb or wrist is tender to touch, applying ice on the area for five minutes will help minimize discomfort, allowing you to use the massage gun more efficiently. Afterwards, follow these simple, easy steps to start relieving pain in under 2 minutes:
After the massage, apply ice to the area for five minutes to get rid of any residual inflammation.
There’s two things you need to consider when buying a massage gun - especially if you’re doing it for the first time:
1.Massage gun strength
Let’s go over these two factors…
A massage gun’s strength is determined by its amplitude (how deep the “punching” motion goes) and speed. But there’s a trade-off between these two.
Because of the way massage guns are designed, a higher amplitude - meaning a punchier, more intense massage means a slower massage gun. A faster massage gun means having a lower amplitude - meaning a more gentle massage.
This is why there are massage guns that have higher amplitudes (up to 14mm) and much slower speeds (2400ppm - percussions per minute). These devices work well for professional athletes and bodybuilders that require an intense massage to release muscle tension, but not something that an everyday, gamer’s thumb pain-suffering person can stand.
HYDRAGUN - with its 12mm amplitude and 3200ppm is specifically designed so that both athletes and everyday users can benefit from its deep tissue massage.
It has 6-speed settings so patients using it for gamer’s thumb can gradually adjust the intensity and choose a massage that is comfortable for them, and helps speed up recovery.
With a noise level ranging from 40-50dB (softer than a normal conversation), HYDRAGUN is by far the quietest massage gun in the market.
Need proof? Watch this sound comparison video between HYDRAGUN and a leading massage gun brand:
HYDRAGUN uses SmoothDriveTM motor technology, and it’s sleek one-piece body is made of Aerospace-grade aluminum which effectively insulates the sound of the motor, while keeping the device lightweight.
HYDRAGUN is so quiet that many people actually use it while watching TV or while attending a Zoom meeting. Compared to other brands in the market, HYDRAGUN not only provides effective deep tissue massages, it’s quietness helps promote relaxation which is an important part of recovering from gamer's thumb.
Hydragun massage gun, with SmoothDrive™ motor
4 standard massage gun heads + 2 stainless steel heads for different muscles
Free carrying case ($250 value)
No questions asked 30-day guarantee with free returns
Free 1.5-year worldwide warranty
Comprehensive user manual
Still need some convincing that HYDRAGUN works not just for athletes and professional gamers, but for everyday users? Surely the over 300 consumer reviews can’t be all wrong. Here are some of them:
A well made and engineered device
"This is a quality product that works brilliantly. The different head attachments cover all of your needs, its comfortable and very powerful. I can’t recommend it enough. When something is great it’s great, that’s all there is to it."
"I purchased the hydragun after seeing their instagram page and also reviewing the testimonials on their website. I use the Hydragun mainly to ease my frozen shoulder condition due to long hours in front of the computer for my job. It is an excellent product which helps me to relax most of my muscles."
Relieved pain caused by fibromyalgia
"I had read up on myofascial release massage as a way of reducing pain in Fibromyalgia.
I found this highly effecttive and my wife uses it just for general massage. The battery lasts a long time and i rarely go above 50% speed as this works for me, but good to know I can go harder if i feel like it."
Will never look at warmup and recovery the same way again
"Love using this massage gun has changed the way I warm up and recover from sports forever. It’s quiet, easy to usue, and comes with plenty of attachments specific to the different types of massages and areas of the body. I was tossing up between this and some more expensive brands and even though it doesnt have the same deep tissue massage it is value for moneny and perfect for what I need in a massage gun."
"It works like a charm and really relieves muscle pain. Good purchase!"
Quiet and powerful hydra gun!
"This hydra gun is by far the quietest massage gun and it does a really good job in recovery. Definitely recommendned for any sports athletes! My friends are so satisfied with the massage gun and have been having it everyday!"
Get back in the game by stopping Gamer’s Thumb in its tracks with HYDRAGUN
Even the best of athletes are forced to sit out of the sport they love when they are seriously injured or in pain. And this applies to eSports where professional gamers train and work as hard as any athlete.
Fortunately, there is one way to deal with the symptoms of Gamer’s Thumb to avoid it from becoming a career ending injury. And with hundreds of customers happy with how it safely and effectively relieves their pain, it’s clear that HYDRAGUN is the no-pill, no-surgery treatment option that can finally settle the score on gamer’s thumb pains.
Disclaimer: The information presented in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Please consult a medical professional before attempting any treatment.