Are you a big fan of video games? Did you use to play all the time, but do you find yourself now indulging less frequently due to the fact that you're experiencing severe wrist pain? If so, you may have De Quervain's disease, and there are ways to ease your symptoms so you can start enjoying your hobby again.

What Is De Quervain's Disease?

There is a narrow tunnel that passes from your forearm, through your wrist, and into your hand. Inside this tunnel are 2 tendons that work together to control the movement of your thumb. In people with De Quervain's disease, both the tunnel and the tendons can become inflamed, restricting the movement of the tendons in the tunnel and creating pain in the wrist when the wrist or thumb of the affected hand are moved. 

While the cause of De Quervain's disease is unknown, some medical experts believe it to be the result of repetitive strains of the tendons, as would be sustained by activities such as the clicking of game controllers or excessive mouse and trackball use.

How Can You Find Out If You Have It?

Besides wrist pain, sufferers of De Quervain's disease sometimes experience skin tenderness of the wrist, burning sensations in the hand, and swelling of the wrist and thumb area on the affected hand. If you have one or more of these symptoms and are an avid gamer, there's a good chance that you've got the condition. Visit your doctor; they'll take x-rays to rule out other conditions and manipulate your thumb while asking you to describe your pain. They type of pain you experience while your thumb is being manipulated will indicate whether or not you have De Quervain's disease, and if you do, you can start treatment right away.

If You Do Have It, What Are Your Treatment Options?

Your treatment is dependent on the severity of your condition. Between 70 and 80 percent of De Quervain's disease sufferers can be treated by receiving a corticosteroid injection to ease pain and inflammation and then having their thumbs temporarily splinted to prevent further irritation.

In severe cases of De Quervain's disease, however, inflammation may be so severe that the tendons are permanently pinched in place, in which case De Quervain's surgery may be necessary to ease pain and discomfort. During this surgery, an orthopedic surgeon will make an incision in the dorsal compartment that houses the thumb tendons to relieve pressure. Your surgeon will then either remove a small portion of the compartment, or cut the compartment and suture it back together loosely to ensure the tendons have enough room to slide back and forth smoothly.

After surgery, you may be asked to work with an occupational therapist to build thumb and wrist strength and to find ways to adjust your daily routine as to not put as much strain on your thumb.

How Successful Is Surgical Treatment Of De Quervain's Disease?

Although it is recommended that sufferers of De Quervain's disease seek treatment through noninvasive measures first, surgery for this condition is extremely effective. In fact, one study showed complete relief of symptoms for all 94 participants who sought surgical relief of the disease. In most cases, patients who undergo the surgery are able to resume all daily activities that they could perform prior to developing De Quervain's disease. 

If you're an avid gamer and you've been experiencing wrist pain, it's likely that you have De Quervain's disease. Visit your primary care doctor to start noninvasive treatment measures. If noninvasive treatment fails, however, ask your doctor for a referral to a hand surgeon specialist at an office like Town Center Orthopaedic Associates who can perform De Quervain's surgery.