Candy Crush Saga mobile app
A man has ruptured a tendon in his thumb in a most unusual way due to excessively playing the mobile app Candy Crush Saga over two months Reuters

If you did not think it was possible to injure yourself by being addicted to your mobile device, guess again. A man in California has injured himself playing Candy Crush Saga on his phone non-stop for six to eight weeks.

The unknown individual, aged 29, had been playing the popular Match-3 candy-themed puzzle on his game without realising that he had injured himself.

Eventually he went to the hospital complaining his left thumb hurt and was difficult to move, and MRI tests showed he had ruptured the tendon that runs from his thumb to his wrist, with him requiring surgery.

What is even more incredible is doctors feel mobile phone addiction is becoming such an important medical issue that it warrants writing about it, and a team has released a paper entitled Tendon Rupture Associated With Excessive Smartphone Gaming that is published in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

"We need to be aware that certain video games can act like digital painkillers," said Dr Andrew Doan, a co-author of the case report and head of addictions research at the Naval Medical Center San Diego. "We have to be very cognisant that that can be abused."

According to the paper, the patient had turned to Candy Crush Saga as he had just left the military and was between jobs.

Tear should have been more painful

Usually when people rupture this particular tendon, they tear it at the point where it is thinnest, or where it attaches to the bone. But in this care, the man ruptured the tendon at the point where it was at its thickest and would likely cause the most amount of pain prior to rupturing.

The patient apparently had not felt any pain and had not realised he had injured himself, and the doctors think this is because the endorphins released when people play video games contain natural painkillers, so the players only feel pleasure and excitement, similar to a "runner's high".

"Although this is only a single case report, research might consider whether video games have a role in clinical pain management and as nonpharmacologic alternatives during uncomfortable or painful medical procedures," the researchers wrote in the paper.

"The potential for video games to reduce pain perception raises clinical and social considerations about excessive use, abuse and addiction. Future research should consider whether pain reduction is a reason some individuals play video games excessively, manifest addiction or sustain injuries associated with video gaming."

In Asian countries such as South Korea, Japan and Taiwan, there have been a multitude of cases where people have become obsessed with gaming and have died in internet cafes from not eating or sleeping. There have also been two cases of gamers forgetting about their babies due to their gaming addiction, which has led to fatal consequences.