Horns, Text Neck and Teenagers

A recent article in the Washington Post concluded that research conducted in Queensland, Australia is documenting that our young adults are starting to develop skeletal deformities in the back of their skulls due to mobile technology. It’s been referred to as the “phone bone”.

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 hornlike feature jutting out from the skull, just above the neck. This was evident to some degree in 41% of the kids.

This is a big wow for a Chiropractor. I’ve seen this with my own eyes on X-rays in my practice and I don’t believe that this is a healthy adaptation. It can actually lead to significant health problems such as headaches, neck pain and early degenerative arthritis in the spine.  The problem is the severe flexion that kids (and adults) put their necks into when they are on their mobile devices. Just watch them? Their heads are flexed up to 60 degrees on their necks when using their phones. This put a huge amount of stress on the muscles in the back to the neck which attach to the base of the skull. This creates a chronic pulling of the muscles, which eventually leads to the body to lay down bone over time in the skull to create a stronger anchor for the muscles to attach to.

What can we do for our kids and for ourselves to keep our mobile devices from creating these types of skeletal deformities and health problems? I believe it’s not to abandon all mobile technology. I know my kids are not going to give up their mobile devices at this point. The key is to educate them how to use their mobile devices and give them tools to help undo the damage that long-term mobile device use can cause. Just like we brush and floss in response to sugar and food every day, we have to teach our kids about proper posture, neutral spine position when using mobile phones, and things like adjustments and dennerolls to fix a problem that is being created every day. Do your kids have a dentist? Well now more than ever, they need a good Chiropractor.

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