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Horn grows on young skulls. Telephone use is to blame, suggests research.




Mobile technology has changed the way we live – how we read, work, communicate, act and date. But we already know it.

What we have not yet understood is how the small machines in front of us redistribute our skeletons, and perhaps not only the behaviors we show change, but the bodies we inhabit.


New research in biomechanics suggests that young people develop horn-like spikes on the back of their skulls – bone spores caused by the forward slope of the head, shifting weight from the spine to the muscles on the back of the head, causing bone growth in connecting tendons and ligaments. The weight transfer that causes the build-up can be compared to the way the skin thickens into a callus as a response to pressure or wear.

The result is a hook or horn-like feature that comes out of the skull just above the neck. 19659015] Researchers at the University of Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, have documented the presence of bone spores on the back of the skull among young adults. Photo: Scientific Reports / Washington Post “/>

Researchers at the University of Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, have documented the presence of bone spores on the back of the skull among young adults.

Researchers at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, have documented the presence of bone spores on the back of the skull among young adults.


Photo: Scientific Reports


Photo: Scientific reports

Scientists at the Sunshine Coast coast in Queensland, Australia, have documented the presence of bone spores on the back of the skull among young adults.

Scientists at the Sunshine Coast coast in Queensland, Australia have documented the presence of bone spores on the back of the skull among young adults.



Photo: Scientific Reports


In academic articles, a couple of researchers at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, argue that the incidence of bone growth in younger adults suggests changing body posture created using modern technology. They say that smartphones and other handheld devices conflict with human form, requiring users to bend their heads rather than make sense of what is happening on the thumbnail screen.


The researchers said their discovery marks the first evidence of physiological or skeletal adaptation to the prevalence of advanced technology in everyday life.

Health experts warn of "text neck" and doctors have begun to treat "SMS thumb" which is not a clearly defined condition but is similar to carpal tunnel syndrome. However, previous studies have not linked telephone use to bone-deep changes in the body.



"An important question is what the future holds for the young adult populations in our study when developing a degenerative process is evident in such an early phase of their lives?" Ask the authors in their latest paper published in Nature Research's peer -reviewed, open access Scientific Reports. The study came out last year, but has received fresh attention after the release last week of a BBC story that estimates, "How modern life is to transform the human skeleton."

Since then, the unusual formations have received the attention of Australian media, and have been variously called "head horn", "phone legs", "spikes" or "weird bumps."


Each is a suitable description, said David Shahar, the first author of the paper, a chiropractor who recently completed a Ph.D. in biomechanics at the Sunshine Coast.

"It's up to everyone's imagination," he told the Washington Post. "You might say it looks like a bird knot, a horn, a hook."

However, Shahar said the formation is a sign of a serious deformity in posture that can cause chronic headache and upper back and neck pain.

Part of what was striking about their results, he said, was the size of the bone spores, which are considered large if they measure 3 or 5 millimeters in length. An outgrowth was only included in their research if it measured 10 millimeters or about two fifths of an inch.

The father is not the main horn himself, says Mark Sayers, associate professor of biomechanics at the Sunshine Coast, who served as shahar's guide and co-author. The formation is rather a "portent of something ugly going on elsewhere, a sign that the head and neck are not in the right configuration," he told The Washington Post.

Their work began about three years ago with a pile of neck x-rays taken in Queensland. The pictures captured part of the skull, including the area where the bone protrusions, called enthesophytes, form the back of the head.

Contrary to the traditional understanding of the horn-like structures that are thought to occur rarely and mainly among older people suffering from prolonged stress, Shahar noted that they appeared prominent in X-rays of younger persons, including those did not show any obvious symptoms.

The couple's first paper, published in the Journal of Anatomy in 2016, submitted a sample of 218 x-rays of subjects aged 18 to 30, suggesting that bone growth could be observed in 41 percent of young adults, much more than previously thought . The function was more common among men than among women.

The effect – known as enlarged external occipital protuberance – used to be so unusual, Sayers said that one of his early observers towards the end of the 19th century protested against

Another document published in Clinical Biomechanics in spring 2018, a four-teen case study used to argue that the head horns were not caused by genetic factors or inflammation, pointing instead to the mechanical strain on the muscles of the skull and neck.

And the scientific report published the previous month, zoomed out to consider a sample of 1,200 X-rays of subjects in Queensland aged 18 to 86. The researchers found that the size of bone growth present In 33 percent of the population, actually decreased with age. This discovery was in stark contrast to the existing scientific understanding which had long established that the slow degenerative process arose with aging.

Instead, they found that the bone spores were larger and more common among young people. To understand what the effect was, they looked at the latest developments – circumstances over the past 10 or 20 years that change how young people keep their bodies.

"These formations take a long time to develop, so it means that the people suffering from them have probably been stressed in this area since early childhood," Shahar explained.

The kind of load required to infiltrate the tendon pointed him to handheld devices that bring the head back and forth, requiring the use of muscles at the back of the skull to prevent the head from falling to the chest. "What happens to technology?" he said. "People are more sedentary, they put their heads forward to look at their devices. It requires an adaptive process to spread the load."

The fact that bone growth develops over a long period of time shows that sustained improvement of the body container stops it briefly and even ward off its associated effects.

The answer is not necessarily averting technology, Sayers says. At least there are less drastic interventions.

"What we need is to deal with mechanisms that reflect how important technology has become in our lives," he said.

Shahar pushes people to be like the posture of posture when they became dental hygiene in the 1970s, when personal care came to involve brushing and flossing every day. Schools should learn simple attitude strategies, he said. Anyone using technology during the day should get used to recalibrating their body at night.

As a motivation, he proposed to reach a hand around the lower part of the wreath. Those who have the horn-like function can probably feel it.


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