A Higher Mouse Sensitivity Could Lead To More RSI, Doctor Suggests

As gamers get older, problems associated with the act of gaming -- poor posture, failing eyesight and so forth -- will crop up. Perhaps the most frequent is wrist injuries, specifically through the form of carpal tunnel syndrome or repetitive strain injury (RSI).

Orthopedic surgeon Dr Levi Harrison, who is also a bit of an esports enthusiast, recently fielded a string of questions about gaming and how to stave off the physical issues staving off the problems that could arise. And some of his most interesting observations centred on mouse sensitivity.

Photo: Shutterstock / Dean Drobot

Dr Harrison started his association with esports a few years ago when one of his patients referred him to the League of Legends North American championships in 2013. Since then, he's been taking a clinical eye to the world of esports and video games -- and he often gets hit up on social media for advice about hand and wrist health.

The owner of Selfless Gaming, a Counter-Strike team in North America, asked Dr Harrison about what impact mouse sensitivity could have on a gamer's hand and wrist health. The surgeon looked into it, and in a post on his blog wrote that he observed less RSI in gamers who used lower sensitivities.

"Low sensitivity on the other hand seems to encourage a more controlled style of play, which is conducive to keeping the wrist in a neutral position, hence promoting proper ergonomics," Dr Harrison said.

"Also, it seemed as if individuals using lower DPI were engaging their shoulder, forearm, and upper extremity in more of a natural, evenly distributed fashion, hence, distributing the workload across the upper extremity, rather than focusing all of the strain on a rapid, sharp wrist movement."

By using more of the arm and shoulder, players using low sensitivity supposedly maintained more ergonomic posture. Those relying on largely their wrists, according to Dr Harrison, also tended to have their wrists in more unusual angles that would increase strain or inflammation on the wrists.

The surgeon finished with six pieces of advice for gamers to play in as much comfort as possible:

1. Maintain proper posture, desk height and ergonomics while gaming! Sit up straight; do not slouch/hunch your shoulders forward. 2. Take a 5-10 minute break ever hour, and perform hand, wrist, forearm, shoulder, and neck stretches (Demonstrations can be found on my YouTube channel) 3. Make sure your mouse ergonomically fits your hand and wrist. 4. Keep your hand to elbow alignment in a neutral position. 5. If an issue persists, I would recommend visiting a hand specialist! If you’re in the Los Angeles area, I would be more than happy to evaluate you at my office! 6. Make sure your mouse clicks easily; more resistance on a click may put unnecessary strain on your hand and wrist.

Healthy advice. If you're interested in stretches and other tips for gaming in comfort, Dr Harrison has some tips on YouTube as well.


    quake, battlefield, early days of COD... ruined me, can no longer play quick twitch mouse games

    Last edited 13/04/16 9:43 am

    Mouse ergonomically fits hand, i still to this day cannot find a decent mouse that can fit my hand comfortably and provide the buttons that i use.

    Im 6'5 and have fairly big hands. The only mouse i find useful is my Wireless Naga chroma.
    But after some gaming my hand does tend to get sore, but i cannot find anything i find comfortable that fits my big hands, which also provides the functions i want.

    @velathial have you tried these by any chance. you can adjust the thumb rests and the overall length of the mouse.


    Last edited 13/04/16 12:25 pm

      I love my RAT. Super customisable, comfy and looks friggen badasrse.

    I've been gaming for 15 years on PC and never had any issues with RSI. However, I've been motorcycling for 5 years and I definitely have experienced RSI with my clutch hand. Those clutch levers are hard to pull sometimes.

    I've bought a grip exercise thingy and I use it to exercise my left hand but I dunno if that's actually beneficial or not. Might even be harmful but I'm not sure...

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