Milk Crate Challenge: The viral trend doctors and officials are urging social media users not to try

Although videos show participants landing in dangerous positions, many still want to try it for themselves. Credit: Twitter/@ogmike

Doctors and officials are urging people not to attempt the latest viral trend sweeping across the internet - the Milk Crate Challenge.

As the pandemic continues to force millions across the world to spend more time at home, many are still looking for ways to entertain themselves, even if their efforts could lead to a broken back.

The Milk Crate Challenge is the latest irresponsible social media craze to gain notoriety.

TikTok has now disabled the Milk Crate Challenge hashtag but this has not deterred people from sharing their attempts on other social media platforms, prompting medics to highlight the dangers of it.

What is the Milk Crate Challenge?

The trend sees participants stack up empty milk crates into a rickety, pyramid-style staircase. The aim is to walk up to the top and back down the other side without falling - something very few manage to achieve.

In fact, it seems participants have a lucky escape if they finish the challenge without any breaks, fractures or nasty bruising.

Where did it start?

It is unclear where and why the challenge started, but it became popular around mid-August after a video was shared of a man slowly climbing up a stack of milk crates. But just as he approaches the top, he loses his balance and falls to the ground head first.

Despite his disastrous and painful-looking attempt, many decided to have a go at the challenge for themselves. One woman successfully manages it in heels but hundreds of clips show people suffering injuries, with one man landing on a crate on his back.

It didn't take long before the trend gathered momentum and soon the hashtag had racked up more than 15 million views on TikTok.

What are doctors and officials saying?

As the challenge continued to gain popularity over the last week, doctors and officials have shared their concern and warned it is putting more pressure on already stretched hospitals due to Covid.

Orthopaedic surgeon Shawn Anthony said the injuries caused by the challenge are "perhaps even worse than falling from a ladder".

He told the Washington Post: “It’s very difficult to brace yourself from the falls I’ve seen in these videos. They’re putting their joints at an even higher risk for injury.”

Mr Anthony said medics across the US have reported in online forums that they have treated challenge participants with broken bones, shoulder dislocations, meniscus tears and even spinal cord injuries.

He added: “Everyone needs to do their part in supporting first responders and health-care providers, and that involves not partaking in challenges like this one that are putting additional strain on the system."

Paediatric orthopaedic surgeon, George Gantsoudes, shared footage on Twitter of an attempt gone wrong and warned that participants could need surgery following a milk crate fall.

He tweeted: “The orthopaedic surgeries required to fix problems caused by this may fall under the umbrella of 'elective surgeries'."

Baltimore City's health department tweeted: "With COVID-19 hospitalizations rising around the country, please check with your local hospital to see if they have a bed available for you, before attempting the #milkcratechallenge".

What are social media companies doing about the challenge?

TikTok has now disabled the hashtag, with a message appearing on the platform redirecting users to its Community Guidelines.

The social media giant said in a statement that it "prohibits content that promotes or glorifies dangerous acts", adding: "We encourage everyone to exercise caution in their behavior whether online or off."

But the challenge can still be found on Twitter and Instagram, with the latter boasting around 5,000 images and videos related to the challenge's hashtag.