Playing ‘Candy Crush’ can break your thumb, well sort of
It happens to all of us, we get addicted to a game and any downtime we get is eaten up by it. Unfortunately for one 29-year-old man, from San Diego, California having perhaps too much down time or just too much fun (Update: he had just left the military and was in between jobs), who went to the doctor complaining of pain in his thumb. It was found that he tore a tendon in his thumb after playing ‘Candy Crush Saga’ on his smartphone all day for six to eight weeks. Alas his ‘saga’ ended with chronic pain in his left thumb and loss of active motion.
An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging ) scan was conducted and it was found that he would need surgery to repair the ruptured tendon. A report on this case (the Curious Case of the Candy Crush Thumb Injury) has been published in the medical journal – ‘LiveScience‘.
It was reported that he played with his left hand while using his right hand for other tasks, stating that “playing was kind of a secondary thing, but it [the game] was constantly on.” He also claimed that he felt no pain while playing, only noticing the injury weeks later. Which is interesting to note because usually such injuries are quite painful as noted below.
Dr. Andrew Doan, head of addictions research at Naval Medical Center San Diego who co-authored the ‘LiveScience’ article stated that typically, when a person ruptures this tendon, the tear occurs at the point where the tendon is thinnest, or where it attaches to the bone. But in this man’s case, the rupture occurred at the point where the tendon was thickest, which would usually cause pain prior to the rupture.
Research shows video games can cause the release of hormones in the body that help reduce pain perception, says Dr. Doan, similar to when a person experiences a ‘runner’s high’. That means one could sustain an injury from repeated smartphone use, but not necessarily notice the pain right away. He went on to call video games “digital painkillers”, adding that clinically, video games can be used to help children undergoing painful medical procedures, including pediatric patients during burn treatments.
For the very few who do not know, Candy Crush Saga is a popular game that revolves around swiping rows of brightly colored candies in order to line up three matching ones and earn points. It has been downloaded over 500 million times since its launch back in 2012.
In this case, the man was not actually addicted to Candy Crush, but Dr. Doan warns people who do become hooked, that their relationships, finances and work can suffer. He advised limiting gaming to half an hour a day, as studies have shown that at this level, games can have social and emotional benefits.