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Candy Crushed: Can You Injure Yourself With a Video Game?

Candy Crush

Could Candy Crush be hazardous to your hands? This week JAMA Internal Medicine presented a case study involving a 29-year old man who ruptured the tendon in his hand apparently from playing the game between six and eight hours a day for several weeks. The injury required surgery to repair the tendon and return function to the hand. Does this mean it's time for all of us to step away from the smartphones? "I can honestly say I have never seen an injury of this kind in my practice," says Douglas Hutchinson, MD, a hand and microvascular surgeon with University of Utah Health. "I would say this type of injury from something like smartphone gaming is extremely rare."

That isn't to say that ruptured tendons in the hand are uncommon - they just aren't normally caused by matching colorful candy combos. "Arthritis is a common factor in these types of ruptures," says Hutchinson. "Other contributing factors may be steroid use or the use of certain kinds of antibiotics known as quinolones." According to the JAMA case study none of these factors were present in the case of our video gaming friend. "Still that doesn't mean there wasn't a contributing factor present," says Hutchinson.

The alleged cause of the injury isn't even the main thrust of the JAMA piece. While it's definitely eye catching, what the researchers want to know now is if playing the game somehow reduced the perception of pain. However, Hutchinson says it is likely the patient didn't feel much pain in the first place. "The tendon that ruptured was in the wrist extending into the thumb," he says. "A rupture at this location is probably the most common painless rupture of a tendon in the hand due, we think, to its poor blood supply as it makes a turn around a bony prominence at the wrist." Anatomy, and not focus on the game likely led to the patient ignoring the injury until medical intervention was needed.

Bottom line? You can crush candy without any real fear of injury. "You really shouldn't be staring at a screen for six to eight hours though," says Hutchinson. "Get outside and do something instead."