Australian researchers have found odd bone spurs growing out of the skulls of young people. These “horns” are said to be due to the increasing use of smartphones.
Since the research was published, unusual formations have captured the attention of Australian media, and have variously been dubbed “head horns” or “phone bones” or “spikes” or “weird bumps.” Each is a fitting description, said David Shahar, the paper’s first author, who is a chiropractor and recently completed a Ph.D. in biomechanics at Sunshine Coast.
Mobile technology has transformed almost every aspect of our daily lives and that includes our physical anatomy. What we have a hard time grasping is the way the tiny machines in front of us are remolding our skeletons, possibly altering not just the behaviors we exhibit but the bodies we inhabit, reported The Washington Post.
In academic papers, a pair of researchers at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, found that the prevalence of the bone growth in younger adults points to shifting body posture brought about by the use of modern technology. The research suggests that smartphones and other handheld devices are contorting the human form by requiring users to bend their heads forward to see what’s happening on the miniature screens.
New research in biomechanics suggests that young people are developing hornlike spikes at the back of their skulls — bone spurs caused by the forward tilt of the head, which shifts weight from the spine to the muscles at the back of the head, causing bone growth in the connecting tendons and ligaments. The weight transfer that causes the buildup can be compared to the way the skin thickens into a callus as a response to pressure or abrasion.
The result is a hook or hornlike feature jutting out from the skull, just above the neck. –The Washington Post
This is the first research to link phone use to bone-deep changes in the human body. “An important question is what the future holds for the young adult populations in our study when [the] development of a degenerative process is evident in such an early stage of their lives?” ask the authors in one paper, published in Nature Research’s peer-reviewed, open-access Scientific Reports.
Although this research was published last year, it’s gaining renewed attention as people continue to suffer ailments like “text thumb” because they use their phones so much.
Shahar said that the formation of such “horns” is a sign of a serious deformity in a person’s posture. This deformity can cause chronic headaches and pain in the upper back and neck. The danger is not the head horn itself, said Mark Sayers, an associate professor of biomechanics at Sunshine Coast who served as Shahar’s supervisor and co-author. Rather, the formation is a “portent of something nasty going on elsewhere, a sign that the head and neck are not in the proper configuration,” he told The Post.