Playing Candy Crush Saga non-stop for 8 weeks ruptures man's thumb tendon

BlackBerry users from days of yore may remember the condition that was jokingly dubbed BlackBerry thumb — that is, a repetitive strain injury caused by tapping the device's buttons over and over again for long periods of time. Well, that condition can develop from any repetitive thumb use, and as this story reveals, one modern candidate may be the smartphone game Candy Crush Saga. Addiction to the free-to-play Candy Crush games isn't new, but this California man's playing was so excessive, he didn't even notice the pain leading up to a thumb tendon rupture.

The un-named 29-year-old admitted to playing Candy Crush Saga on his phone all day every day for nearly eight weeks straight. He only used his left hand to carry out his non-stop touchscreen tapping, while using his dominant right hand for everyday, non-Candy Crush related tasks.

Eventually, the man became unable to move his left thumb, and only then began to notice a constant pain in the hand. He went to a doctor, who told him he had ruptured his left extensor pollicis (or left thumb) tendon. But there's one more thing that makes this case so extreme: tendon ruptures normally take place either at a tendon's thinnest point or at a bone. A report from the JAMA Internal Medicine medical journal says this man's rupture took place at the tendon's thickest point. Doctors say there should have been increasingly high levels of pain leading up to the rupture, however the man said he noticed no pain while playing the smartphone game.

As the BlackBerry thumb example shows, repetitive strain injuries can be caused by anything from smartphones to video games. But what's interesting to researchers about this case is the potential for games to be used in pain treatment. The chemicals released by the brain while playing games are known to be connected to pleasure and excitement, but there's also a possibility they could be used as a painkiller.

SOURCE The Guardian