Cause and Effect? A Closer Look at Fortnite and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Premier Health Now

When Boston Red Sox pitcher David Price experienced numbness in his throwing hand, few may have imagined the discussion that would soon follow would center on a video game instead of a baseball diamond. However, Price’s eventual diagnosis with carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) left some wondering if his passion for the popular video game, Fortnite, might have contributed to his condition.

Could excessive time spent holding a video game controller lead to disorders such as CTS? Premier Health Now spoke with hand surgeon Matthew J. Cavo, MD, to ask if there might be a link between the two.

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CTS occurs when the median nerve, which runs from the forearm into the palm of the hand, becomes pressed or squeezed at the wrist, according to the National Institutes of Health.

“Though a link may be possible, there haven’t been randomized controlled studies on the connection between gaming and carpal tunnel in particular,” says Dr. Cavo. “However, studies have shown that repetitive activities such as typing and computer work, as well as poor posture or specific postures, can contribute to and then lead to CTS. That could be because of poor wrist posture at a computer keyboard, or even sleeping with your wrist flexed in an awkward position for prolonged periods.”

Whether video games contribute to CTS or not, Dr. Cavo is quick to point out that other dangers may be lurking far beyond the virtual landscape on a video monitor.

“There are a number of health risks for CTS that simply come from a more sedentary lifestyle,” says Dr. Cavo. “More time should be designated for exercise each day instead of just sitting and playing video games for hours at a time.”