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

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

Just Posted

Lightning in Kelowna, B.C. (Contributed)
Severe thunderstorm watch in effect for Okanagan

Conditions are favourable for the development of severe thunderstorms overnight

(Dave Ogilvie/Contributed)
UPDATE: West Kelowna fire crews rescue injured mountain biker

The injury took place at the top of Smith Creek Road

Kelowna flags were flown at half-mast after the discovery of a residential school burial site in Kamloops. (File photo)
Central Okanagan school board chair reflects on recent tragedies

Moyra Baxter offers condolenses to residential school victims, slain Muslim family

The RCMP presence in Central Okanagan public schools is being reviewed by the board of education. (File photo)
RCMP presence welcomed in Central Okanagan public schools

Staff survey feedback overwhelmingly positive from students, staff and parents

Bentley resting on a bench at Kal Park in Vernon not knowing there is a baby rattlesnake curled up below. Bentley jumped down and was bit by the snake. (Facebook)
Dog bit by baby rattler at popular Vernon park

The rattlesnake was hidden underneath a park bench when it struck out

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Jane Linden
KCR: Volunteering keeps you active

Kelowna Community Resources shares stories of its volunteers in a weekly column

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Longtime SOWINS volunteer Diane Fru (far left) walks with members of her family as they Walk To End Abuse Sunday, June 13, 2021. South Okanagan Women In Needs Society (SOWINS) raised a record amount this year. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Walk to End Abuse in South Okanagan breaks fundraising record

More than $53,000 raised so far while the pandemic has increased need for SOWINS’ services

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

Most Read