Researchers say shifting body posture due to phone use is causing hornlike bone spurs

Researchers say shifting body posture due to phone use is causing hornlike bone spurs
© Scientific Reports | David Shahar & Mark G. L. Sayers 

Research suggests young people shifting their posture to use cellphones is causing them to develop hornlike spurs at the base of their skulls, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

A pair of researchers at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, published their study in academic papers arguing that modern technology is to blame.

Younger generations are reportedly tilting their chins down to look at smartphones and other handheld devices, shifting weight from the spine to the muscles at the back of the head.


This motion, researchers argued, causes bone growth in the connecting tendons on the back of the neck.

The Post noted that while the study was released last year, it has received renewed attention this month following a BBC report titled, “How modern life is transforming the human skeleton.” 

Some media outlets have since described the growth as “head horns” or “phone bones.”

David Shahar, the paper’s first author, told the Post that the nicknames are “up to anyone’s imagination”

“You may say it looks like a bird’s beak, a horn, a hook,” Shahar, a chiropractor with a Ph.D. in biomechanics at Sunshine Coast, told the newspaper.

The pair’s research, published in Scientific Reports in 2018, considered a sample of 1,200 X-rays of subjects in Queensland, ages 18 to 86. 


The growth was present in 33 percent of the population, but researchers found it decreased with age.

While bone spurs are thought to be large if they measure between 3 or 5 millimeters, the researchers only factored in outgrowths that measure 10 millimeters.

The deformity in posture can cause chronic headache and pain in the upper back and neck, Shahar added.

“These formations take a long time to develop, so that means that those individuals who suffer from them probably have been stressing that area since early childhood,” Shahar explained.

Mark Sayers, an associate professor of biomechanics at Sunshine Coast who served as Shahar’s supervisor and co-author, told the Post that the bump is a “nasty” sign that the head and neck are not in proper configuration.