A scientific paper has links bone spurs in the young to tablet and smartphone use. (Scientific Reports/Nature Journal)

‘Text neck’ causing bone spurs to grow from millennials’ skulls, researchers say

Technology use from early childhood causing abnormal bone growths in 41 per cent of young adults

How often in restaurants, parks, buses, at home and even in traffic, do you see the tell-tale dipped head, the sign that someone is entranced by their phone?

According to two researchers from the University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia, dipped heads have consequences.

Their study, published in Nature Research’s Scientific Reports, suggests that bone spurs, called enthesophytes, are growing out of the back of people’s skulls because of the head dips, and the problem is especially prevalent in the young.

ALSO READ: Many millennials locked out of housing market

While it is well known exercise causes muscle and lung function to improve, it is only relatively recent that people are becoming aware our skeletons are malleable too. Increased stresses, strains and activity cause bones to grow stronger and even change shape, while inactivity causes them to grow more brittle.

The study’s authors, David Shahar and Mark Sayers, say our relatively heavy heads are perfectly balanced when sitting or standing upright, but when we dip, the load weight is moved from the spine to the muscles at the back of the head, causing bone growth to cope with the strain.

The “phone bones,” as they’ve been dubbed by Australian media, tend to be between 10 and 31 mm long.

In the past, the growths were thought to be rare and only found in older people. However, over the past four years, the researchers have published three papers that show, using X-Rays, the growths are found in 41 per cent of young adults, with men more susceptible than women. The bone spurs take a long time to grow, so they would have been growing since early childhood.

Buoyed by their findings, the researchers decided to see if the protuberances are prevalent in the general population too. They used a sample of 1,200 subjects aged between 18 to 86 and found the growths in 33 per cent of them. With each decade of age, the rate of growths dropped.

The bone spurs have been discovered previously, but this study is thought to be the first to link them with technological use.

ALSO READ: Channel your inner pirate in epic Canada-wide treasure hunt

The duo writes that the condition “may be linked to sustained aberrant postures associated with the emergence and extensive use of hand-held contemporary technologies, such as smartphones and tablets.

“Our findings raise a concern about the future musculoskeletal health of the young adult population and reinforce the need for prevention intervention through posture improvement education.”

Tablet and smart phone use have been linked to other health issues, such as forearm, back and neck pain, and migraines.



nick.murray@peninsulanewsreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Science

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Claims already being staked after GeoScience BC report released

In the first 15 days following the report, a total of 34 new claims were staked.

Bradshaw’s Photo Highlight: Waulkwass River

A kingfisher and some trumpeter swans came by close enough to get a few shots.

Port Hardy RCMP investigating drug offences

Both vehicle occupants may face future charges related to the suspected drugs and cash.

Port McNeill’s Barb Drennan named forest technologist of the year

“Her work with the Heiltsuk First Nation is a model for other forest professionals”

VIDEO: B.C. senior recalls ‘crazy’ wartime decision to grab bear cub from den

Henry Martens – now 96 – says he was lucky to be alive after youthful decision to enter a bear’s den

Cheapest in B.C.: Penticton gas prices dip below $1 per litre

Two stores in Penticton have gas below a dollar.

Loans or gifts? Judge rules woman must pay B.C. man back $7K

B.C. judge rules that woman must pay back more than $7,000 in advanced funds to man

VIDEO: Outpouring of worldwide support for bullied Australian boy

Australian actor Hugh Jackman said ‘you are stronger than you know, mate’

Sports Talk with Tyson: Winning isn’t everything

“regardless of the outcome, I gave everything I had and I left it all on the mats.”

‘A horror show:’ Ex-employee shares experience at problematic Chilliwack seniors’ home

Workers are paid below industry standard at all Retirement Concepts facilities

Forest industry protests northern B.C. caribou protection deal

B.C. Mining Association supports federal-Indigenous plan

Youth-led report calls on B.C. government to create plan to end youth homelessness

There are no dedicated programs for youth homelessness at federal, provincial level, report says

Trudeau: Time for blockades to end and Indigenous leaders to work with government

Prime minister says situation in Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute is ‘unacceptable and untenable’

Most Read