Jack Quann
Jack Quann

10.14 25 Jun 2019


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Researchers have discovered that some young people are developing a bone growth at the back of the skull, due to looking down at their phone.

The University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia says unusual postures have led to an increase in the phenomenon.

A 2016 study published by Dr David Shahar and Associate Professor Mark Sayers in the Journal of Anatomy has attracted renewed attention.

It involved 218 x-rays of people aged between 18 and 30-years-old on the Sunshine Coast.

It found that 41% had developed a 10 to 30 millimetre bony lump at the back of their skull.

text neck These images include a measurement line indicating the origin, tip and length of an enlarged external occipital protuberance (EEOP) | Image: Wiley Online Library

Dr Shahar says the growths were once exclusive to older patients, as they resulted from long-term load on the skeleton.

But this is no longer the case.

Dr Shahar says: "This is evidence that musculoskeletal degenerative processes can start and progress silently from an early age.

"These findings were surprising because typically they take years to develop and are more likely to be seen in the ageing population.

"It is important to understand that, in most cases, bone spurs measure a few single millimetres and yet we found projections of 10 to 30 millimetres in the studied young population."

Further tests - including MRI scans and blood testing - ruled out the possibility that the growths were the result of genetic factors or inflammation.

Dr Shahar says the findings offered a warning about "the early and silent development of bone and joint damage due to poor posture" and highlighted the need for prevention intervention through posture modification when using hand-held technologies.

"We hypothesise that the sustained increase load at that muscle attachment is due to the weight of the head shifting forward with the use of modern technologies for long periods of time," he adds

"Shifting the head forwards results in the transfer of the head's weight from the bones of the spine to the muscles at the back of the neck and head."

"The increased load prompts remodelling on both the tendon and the bony ends of the attachment. The tendon’s footprint on the bone becomes wider to distribute the load on a larger surface area of the bone."

He explains: "The thing is that the bump is not the problem, the bump is a sign of sustained terrible posture, which can be corrected quite simply".

A further study in 2018, published in Scientific Reports-Nature, showed that bone overgrowths at the back of the skulls were larger and more common with young adults than with the older population.


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Australia Bone Bony Lump Dr David Shahar Skeleton Text Neck University Of The Sunshine Coast Unusual Postures

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