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Case Report/Case Series
June 2015

Tendon Rupture Associated With Excessive Smartphone Gaming

Author Affiliations
  • 1US Navy, San Diego, California
  • 2San Diego Hand Specialists, San Diego, California
  • 3Department of Ophthalmology, Naval Medical Center San Diego, San Diego, California
  • 4Department of Mental Health, Naval Medical Center San Diego, San Diego, California
JAMA Intern Med. 2015;175(6):1048-1049. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.0753
Abstract

Importance  Excessive use of smartphones has been associated with injuries.

Observations  A 29-year-old, right hand–dominant man presented with chronic left thumb pain and loss of active motion from playing a Match-3 puzzle video game on his smartphone all day for 6 to 8 weeks. On physical examination, the left extensor pollicis longus tendon was not palpable, and no tendon motion was noted with wrist tenodesis. The thumb metacarpophalangeal range of motion was 10° to 80°, and thumb interphalangeal range of motion was 30° to 70°. The clinical diagnosis was rupture of the left extensor pollicis longus tendon. The patient subsequently underwent an extensor indicis proprius (1 of 2 tendons that extend the index finger) to extensor pollicis longus tendon transfer. During surgery, rupture of the extensor pollicis longus tendon was seen between the metacarpophalangeal and wrist joints.

Conclusions and Relevance  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.

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