Xbox 360 can bring your ancestors back from the dead

Well, not quite. But I’ve noticed a curious phenomenon.

As I’ve mentioned endlessly, my back problems returned with a vengeance in April: a slipped disc or discs resulting in pretty much constant sciatic pain in my leg and foot. Everything I do hurts: sitting at the computer, sitting downstairs with the laptop, watching TV, driving the car… you get the idea.

There’s one exception: playing Xbox. It’s not just that it doesn’t hurt; it’s that it seems to make my back better.

At the moment my daily routine goes a bit like this. I’ll wake up in pain at 5am or so, try to get back to sleep, doze off for a bit and finally admit defeat at 6, 6.30am. I’ll then shuffle about like an old man, drink coffee, read the papers and start work somewhere between 7am and 8. By 10am I’m sore, by noon I’m really sore, by mid-afternoon I’m in bloody agony. I’ll lie down for half an hour in a fruitless attempt to take the pressure of my back, do another bit of work, swearing all the time, then I’ll put dinner on. And that’s Xbox time – specifically, Crackdown.

I’ll play Crackdown for half an hour to an hour, and during that period my back isn’t sore at all. No back pain, no sciatica, no anything. And yet I’m sitting on the same sofa, in the same position, as when I watch TV or read a magazine. The latter two mean I constantly have to shift position because the sciatica gets worse, but when I’m blowing stuff up in Crackdown I don’t even have a twinge. The effect lasts for about 30 minutes after I’ve stopped playing, and then it’s back to the back pain.

I’m intrigued by this, because there’s got to be a reason for it. It’s not a one-off, a two-off or a three-off; it’s every single time I park my arse on the sofa and play Crackdown. So it’s one of two things: either the game is distracting me and taking my mind off things, so the pain is still there but my brain’s more interested in taking out an SUV full of Shai-Gen soldiers; or gaming’s releasing a bunch of happy drugs that do a better job than any painkillers, prescription or otherwise.

Anybody else experienced the same kind of thing, with gaming acting as a painkiller? Or does anyone have any idea why playing Crackdown’s considerably more effective than Co-Codamol? I’m really intrigued by this.