Young Adults Growing 'Horns' Due to Smartphone Use: Researchers

FRIDAY, June 21, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Young adults are developing "horns" at the back of their skulls due to excessive use of mobile devices, researchers say.

The horns are actually bone spurs caused by forward tilting of the head, which shifts weight from the spine to the muscles at the back of the head. This leads to bone growth in the connecting tendons and ligaments, the Washington Post reported.

The bone spurs develop in the skull, just above the neck, said the researchers at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia.

The bone spurs are a sign of serious posture issues that can cause chronic headaches and pain in the upper back and neck, study first author David Shahar, a chiropractor who recently completed a Ph.D. in biomechanics, told the Post.

One significant finding was the size of the bone spurs. Typically, bone spurs are considered large if they're 3 or 5 millimeters in length, he explained. This research included only bone spurs that were 10 millimeters, about two-fifths of an inch.

The bone spurs themselves aren't a threat, but rather a "portent of something nasty going on elsewhere, a sign that the head and neck are not in the proper configuration," study co-author Mark Sayers, an associate professor of biomechanics, told the Post.

The study was published last year in the journal Scientific Reports but only recently attracted significant attention.

"An important question is what the future holds for the young adult populations in our study, when development of a degenerative process is evident in such an early stage of their lives?" the authors wrote.

Previous studies have linked smartphone use to neck and hand problems, but this is the first study to connect such use to bone changes, the Post reported.

"These formations take a long time to develop, so that means that those individuals who suffer from them probably have been stressing that area since early childhood," Shahar told the Post.

He suggested that heavy users of mobile devices pay closer attention to their posture. If they need motivation to do so, they should feel the lower rear of their skull to check for bone spurs.

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