Tendon Rupture Associated With Excessive Smartphone Gaming (2015)

JAMA Intern Med. 2015 Apr 13. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.0753. [Epub ahead of print]

Gilman L1, Cage DN2, Horn A1, Bishop F3, Klam WP4, Doan AP5.



Excessive use of smartphones has been associated with injuries.


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.