One Man’s Candy Crush Saga

Candy Crush Saga can be bad for your health, especially if you play it all day for two months straight. A 29-year old man, who went to his doctor complaining of “chronic left thumb pain and loss of motion”, admitted to playing Candy Crush “all day for 6 to 8 weeks.”

The patient, who is right-handed, played mostly with his left hand while using his right hand for other activities. “Playing was a kind of secondary thing, but it was constantly on,” he said.

The patient was diagnosed with a rupture of the tendon between the wrist and the first thumb knuckle. The injury required surgery.

Considering the seriousness of the injury, the doctor was surprised that the patient had not experienced pain earlier. Yet, the pain manifested only after the tendon ruptured.

A report on this case, authored by a group of doctors led by Dr. Andrew Doan of the Naval Medical Center San Diego theorized that the visual distraction and pleasurable nature of playing Candy Crush provided a plausible explanation for why the patient did not feel pain until the injury escalated to a rupture. The doctors’ report cited previous research that found video games could suppress the perception of pain in pediatric patients and burn victims.

In other words, playing a video game, such as Candy Crush, for an extended time may prevent a player from experiencing pain that he or she should could be experiencing. As a result, some players may play beyond the point when they should in order to avoid serious injury.

Previous research has suggested that playing certain video games can:

  • reduce stress
  • make players more morally sensitive
  • cause lingering effects in behavior and visual perception
  • cause injury
  • and increase brain size

The authors of the medical paper wrote, “Research might consider whether video games could have a role in clinical pain management and as nonpharmacologic alternatives during uncomfortable or painful medical procedures. They may also have a role in reducing stress. It may be interesting to ascertain whether various games differ in their ability to reduce the perception of pain.”

However the report also noted, “The potential for video games to reduce pain perception raises clinical and social considerations about excessive use, abuse, and addiction.”