As the saying goes, “play stupid games, win stupid prizes” — and there’s no better place to find stupid games than social media. Recent weeks have seen one particular game, the “milk crate challenge,” go viral on TikTok. As the phenomenon spreads on social media, doctors are once again warning users to steer clear of this dangerous viral challenge.
TikTok has had trouble with dangerous games before. Earlier this year, users of the site participated in the “beer bottle challenge,” often with painful results.
The milk crate challenge, however, takes the danger to new heights — literally. The trend involves stacking several milk crates into a stair formation and attempting to climb to the top.
While the challenge sounds simple enough, the stacked milk crates form a less-than-stable foundation for climbing. The result? Countless videos of hapless climbers tumbling from milk crate towers.
The viral trend gained more steam recently thanks to a tweet from comedian and late-night host Conan O’Brien.
“Waiting for FDA approval before I take the Milk Crate Challenge,” O’Brien tweeted in a joking reference to the COVID-19 vaccine.
Before long, the FDA itself chimed in and assured that, unlike the vaccine, the milk crate challenge is unlikely to receive their seal of approval.
Although we regulate milk, we can’t recommend you try that. Perhaps enjoy a nice glass of 2% and return all those crates to the grocery store?— U.S. FDA (@US_FDA) August 23, 2021
“Although we regulate milk, we can’t recommend you try that,” the agency tweeted. “Perhaps enjoy a nice glass of 2% and return all those crates to the grocery store?”
People doing this like they have the best health insurance… pic.twitter.com/6znbsi8h0a— Mike 🇺🇸 (@ogmike) August 21, 2021
Unsurprisingly, medical professionals have spoken out against the challenge, citing an obvious risk of grave injury.
“The Milk Crate Challenge is very dangerous, and we are seeing many orthopedic injuries as a result of the falls,” orthopedic surgeon Dr. Shawn Anthony told Today. “Injuries can include broken wrists, shoulder dislocations, ACL and meniscus tears, as well as life-threatening conditions like spinal cord injuries.”
The orthopaedic surgeries required to fix problems caused by this may fall under the umbrella of “elective surgeries”— George Gantsoudes #BLM (@Peds_Ortho) August 22, 2021
Might not want to tempt the trauma gods if you live south of the Mason-Dixon https://t.co/WHQtgeo0gB
Dr. Anthony also pointed out that, with the COVID pandemic still raging, the challenge could put unnecessary strain on already overwhelmed hospitals.
“Emergency rooms across the country are already overcrowded and elective surgeries are being delayed or postponed due to lack of hospital beds,” he said. “This social media challenge puts unnecessary additional stress on our health system and health care providers.”