Mobile technology has transformed the way we live – how we read, work, communicate, shop and date.
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 horn-like feature jutting out from the skull, just above the neck.
Researchers say smartphones and other handheld devices are contorting the human form, requiring users to bend their heads forward to make sense of what’s happening on the miniature screens.
Health experts warn of “text neck,” and doctors have begun treating “texting thumb,” which is not a clearly defined condition but bears resemblance to carpal tunnel syndrome.
But prior research has not linked phone use to bone-deep changes in the body.
The researchers said their discovery marks the first documentation of a physiological or skeletal adaptation to the penetration of advanced technology into everyday life.
Since then, the unusual formations have captured the attention of Australian media, and have variously been dubbed “head horns,” “phone bones,” “spikes”, or “weird bumps.”
They found that the bone spurs were larger and more common among young people.
To understand what was driving the effect, they looked to recent developments – circumstances over the last 10 or 20 years altering how young people hold their bodies.
That the bone growth develops over a long period of time suggests that sustained improvement in posture can stop it short and even ward off its associated effects.