According to news reports, a man from California tore a tendon in his thumb after too much playing of a puzzle game on his smartphone.
The doctors who treated him said that, the man’s case is interesting because such injuries are usually quite painful, but the man appeared to not notice any pain while he played. In a sense that, video games, Candy Crush Saga, in particular, may numb people’s pain and contribute to video game addiction.
We need to be aware that certain video games can act like digital painkillers. We have to be very cognizant that that can be abused,” says Dr. Andrew Doan, a co-author of the case report and head of addictions research at the Naval Medical Center San Diego.
Reports said that the 29-year-old, went to the doctor because his left thumb hurt and he was having trouble moving it. He told the doctors that he had played the addictive, “Candy Crush Saga” on his smartphone all day for six to eight weeks. The man had played the game with his left hand while he used his right hand for other things.
Playing was a kind of secondary thing, but it was constantly on.”
After examining the man and performing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) on his hand, doctors determined that the man had ruptured a tendon involved in moving the thumb, and they said he needed surgery to repair the tendon.
Typically, when people rupture this particular 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, as Doan explained.
But the man said he didn’t feel pain while he played the smartphone game. This may be because, when people play video games, they can feel pleasure and excitement that are tied to the release of natural painkillers in the body — the same thing that happens when a person feels a “runner’s high,” Doan said.
Furthermore, this may lead to reduced perceptions of pain, but it may also play a role in the addictive nature of video games. In this particular case, the man was not addicted to “Candy Crush.” Rather, he was playing the game as a way to pass time. But video game addictions can occur, and they sometimes cause problems in people’s relationships, finances and work.
People should try to limit gaming to about 30 minutes a day. Studies show that about one hour or less of video game play a day can have social and emotional benefits, but too much gaming can have the opposite effect, Doan said. People who experience problems in their lives as a result of too much video-game play should seek help, and can visit the support group On-Line Gamers Anonymous,” Doan said.
It’s well-known that smartphones and other devices can cause injuries — the phrase “BlackBerry thumb” refers to repetitive strain injuries that result from the overuse of thumbs to press buttons on mobile devices. And a recent review of Nintendo injuries found that the video games have been linked with a number of injuries over the last three decades, including muscle injuries, and cuts and black eyes linked with playing Nintendo Wii.
But despite the potential for video games to be abused and lead to injuries, their “painkiller” effect might have benefits in the right circumstances, such as for people in pain, the researchers said.
However, in the case of this man’s injured thumb, just forget about its positive light on pain management because your social life would also suffer and not just your thumb.