Horn-like growths appear to be forming in the backs of some young peoples’ skulls, possibly because of cellphone use, according to research from an Australian university.
The spike-like features, formally known as the “external occipital protuberance,” are caused by the forward tilt of the head, a pair of researchers at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia argued in academic papers.
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As we hunch over our phones and tablets, the study said, we crane our heads and necks forward. This shifts weight from the spine to the muscles at the back of the head, causing bone growth in the connecting tendons and ligaments.
“What happens with technology? People are more sedentary; they put their head forward, to look at their devices. That requires an adaptive process to spread the load,” David Shahar, the paper’s first author, told The Washington Post.
To conduct the study, the researchers analyzed more than 1,000 X-rays of skulls of people ranging from 18 to 86 years old. They measured the spikes and noted what the participant’s posture was like.
The study found that one in four people aged 18 to 30 had the growth, according to the BBC.
The horns can cause chronic headaches and pain in the neck and upper back.
As for a solution, Shahar doesn’t recommend swearing off technology, but rather paying better attention to and attempting to improve one’s posture.
“What we need are coping mechanisms that reflect how important technology has become in our lives,” he said.
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