May 26, 2023

Work with ActivArmor to Create the Solution for Painful Gamer's Thumb

When gaming or texting make your thumbs hurt

The world of video gaming is very diverse, ranging from mobile gaming to PC. Over the past years, there has been an increase in downloads and mobile games usage among kids as well as adults. A Common Sense Media study released in March 2022 found that teens spent an average of one hour and 46 minutes gaming in 2021, on either a computer, mobile device, or console. Boys make up the large majority of gamers, with an average of 2 hours and 19 minutes of video gaming daily. Kids are online more than ever before. New research shows that teens spend more than eight and a half hours online for entertainment which includes exposure to all types of digital media— including gaming as well as social media, web surfing, and watching videos.

Almost All Teens Play Games

Video gaming is pervasive in the lives of American teens—young teens and older teens, girls and boys, and teens from across the socioeconomic spectrum. Opportunities for gaming are everywhere, and teens are playing video games frequently. When asked, half of all teens reported playing a video game “yesterday.” Those who play daily typically play for an hour or more.

Fully 97% of teens ages 12-17 play computer, web, portable, or console games.

These days, we’re on our smartphones — a lot. Whether working from home, reading daily news, or keeping in touch with friends and family, our mobile phones can help us communicate and feel connected. According to a recent survey, COVID-19’s impact on daily life has also affected our phone use, and text messaging is more popular than ever.

But all that texting, swiping, and scrolling can lead to physical health issues. Eye strain and neck pain, as well as issues in the hands, wrists, and especially thumbs, can all be signs you’re spending too much time on your phone or gaming.

Now there’s a name for the pain and strain in the thumb: texting thumb. Also called gamer’s thumb or trigger thumb, texting thumb has become a common term to describe pain caused when the tendons that power the motion of the thumb become inflamed from overuse.

“We see people come in all the time with hand problems like texting thumb. Hand or wrist pain used to be from typing on keyboards, but now it’s from using cell phones,” says Neil Harness, MD, an orthopedic doctor and hand surgeon at Kaiser Permanente.

The Problems at Hand

According to Dr. Harness, our hands and thumbs can do these common smartphone motions like texting, scrolling, and grasping. But smartphone overuse and repetition put stress on our hands, leading to inflammation and pain. There are different types of hand pain:

  • Texting thumb — Pain, inflammation, and swelling of thumb tendons caused by repetitive motion. When the pain is localized to the palm side of the thumb where it meets the hand, it’s likely trigger thumb. In some cases, the thumb will pop or catch suddenly with movement. When the pain occurs with thumb movement but is localized to the side of your wrist, it could be diagnosed as a specific hand pain called de Quervain’s tenosynovitis.
  • Tendonitis — Inflammation of a tendon, which is the cord attaching a muscle to a bone, usually due to overuse or injury.
  • Arthritis — Inflammation, swelling, and tenderness of one or more joints. You won’t develop arthritis due to smartphone use, but you can aggravate it.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome — A numbness, tingling, or weakness in the hand caused by a pinched nerve in the wrist.

Beyond the thumb, other fingers can also fall victim to overuse. So, it’s important to be aware of how your hands and arms feel when they’re positioned certain ways for long periods of time.

Got game? If you play too long, you might get or have gamer’s thumb.  Its proper name is as stated above, de Quervain's tenosynovitis, but you could also hear it called de Quervain’s disease or de Quervain’s syndrome.

It’s a painful of tendons in your wrist and lower thumb. When the swollen tendons rub against the narrow tunnel they pass through, it causes pain at the base of your thumb and into the lower arm.  And, anyone can get it, but we do know you can get the condition if you move your wrist over and over again, whether it’s for fun or for work. But it does result from:

  • A direct blow to the thumb
  • Gaming
  • Hobbies like gardening or racket sports
  • Inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis
  • Overuse
  • Repetitive tasks that move your wrist

Treatment. The goal is to ease the pain and inflammation when you move your thumb and to stop it from happening again. It involves: rest from repetitive movements you have been doing. possibly using over-the-counter pain relievers to ease the swelling, and cold and heat therapy and exercises to build strength in your wrist, hand, and arm.

Splint and physical therapy. If your pain persists, your doctor will probably order a splint that will hold your thumb and wrist firm and still. You’ll wear it 24 hours a day for 4 to 6 weeks. What is currently on the market is stiff, can't get wet, and uncomfortable since it is not made to your unique physical needs.

The Camp BizSmart -ActivArmor Challenge:

Young aspiring entrepreneurs at Camp BizSmart are being asked by ActivArmor CEO, Diana Hall, to disrupt this old way of treating Gamer's Thumb by designing a unique, personalized 3D splint that is washable, comfortable, and can be ordered direct from the consumer to ActivArmor using a specialized app they will also help to design. This is an opportunity to help alot of people. Camp BizSmart idea makers working in teams, will have two weeks to solve this product innovation case, support it with a go to market biz case and then pitch it to a panel of angel investors on the last day.

Apply today at to join us July 24-Aug 4, 2023, at Santa Clara University.

Innovate with ActivArmor at Camp BizSmart
Peggy Gibbs
CFO & Co-Founder
Mike Gibbs
CEO & Co-Founder
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