We chiropractors had a field day recently when major news outlets dropped the headlines that millennials are growing skull horns due to their excessive mobile usage. Skull horns, loosely defined, are bone growths on the skull at the back of the head. Anything bone related is also related to us chiropractors.
So, we pored through these articles and read the research to see if this is indeed true, or a click bait strategy to increase viewership.
WHAT ARE “SKULL HORNS”
A pair of Australian researchers had recently published a report stating that in a study they did with 218 people aged between 18-30, about 40% of them were found to have a bone growth near the base of their skulls. This growth is called an “enlarged external occipital protuberance” (EEOP).
EEOP is a result of the repetitive action of a forward head tilt, thus shifting the weight from the spine to the muscles at the back of the head. As the high percentage surprised the scientists who were expecting EEOP to be more prevalent among the elderlies, it was posited that it could be due to the increased dependency and attachment millennials have to their mobile phones.
IS IT SOMETHING TO BE WORRIED ABOUT?
In our opinion, to call it a horn is probably an exaggeration in hope to increase page clicks and viewership through dramatisation. The same research had shown that the size of these bone growths are between 10 to 30mm, and if we were to paint an accurate visual image, we would call them bumps more than horns. Also, there have been no in-depth research done to prove that active mobile usage is the direct causation of EEOP, although it IS a good and valid deduction.
Although the bone growths is not a cause of worry in itself, BUT it is an emergency red flag that is calling out a terrible posture which can lead to chronic headaches and upper back and neck pain. Thankfully, this can be corrected immediately and effectively through simple stretching exercises or by seeing a chiropractor to realign the spine.
While we couldn’t be sure if EEOP is a legit phenomenon that is going to happen to everyone who uses mobile phones extensively, what we do know is that text neck, a side effect of extensive mobile phone usage, is real and literally, a pain in the neck.
According to a research published in Surgical Technology International, a United States-based publication, the head weights about 4kg, and a 30-degree downward tilt can exert 18kg of stress on the spine. Text neck is the painful result of the additional stresses on the neck and upper back.
If left untreated, text neck can develop into chronic neck pain which will result in several inconveniences and inactivities.
STOP DELAYING AND TOLERATING
If you are experiencing a dull ache in your neck or couldn’t rotate your neck fully to each side without feeling a strain, we strongly encourage that you come down for a consultation with our certified chiropractors. The thing with chronic pain is that it doesn’t go away by itself. If left untreated it will probably only gets worse and worse. Call +65 6384 7385 to schedule an appointment today.
Dr. Jenny Li is the appointed chairman of Medical Committee for NABBA WFF Singapore.