Change This Habit These School Holidays: Avoid Phone Bone 

 July 11, 2019

By  Dr. Michael J Egan

First, there was "text neck," and now there's "phone bone." As one of the newer irregular modern-day findings, phone bone is an extra bony growth found at the back of the skull. In a recent Australian study published in the Journal of Anatomy in 2016, the authors after reviewing 218 x-rays of people aged between 18-30 on the Sunshine Coast, found that 41% had developed a 10-30mm bony growth at the back of their skull. MRI and blood tests were also attended to rule out genetic factors or inflammation being a cause of these growths.

The authors note these findings were surprising because they usually take years to develop and are more likely to be seen in the aging population, as well as typically only a few single millimetres versus the 10 – 30mm found in this cohort.

phone bone 28 yr old

So, What Does this Mean?

Are our children about to grow horns in the back of their heads as some news agency headlines wrote recently?   Well, the important point to note from this study as the authors have stated is that they have simply reported on a new finding of increased bone growth in the back of the skull of a younger group of patients than normal.   This extra calcification occurs due to a concept known as wolf's law, which in this case relates to the response of bone to mechanical stimulation and states that bony adaptation will occur in response to an increased and repeated load. This is the same concept that occurs with degeneration of the knee, spinal joints and other bone.

Now, although the authors did not measure phone usage, nor did they report on any pain or dysfunction in correlation with this study. They did hypothesize that the cause of this finding was due to the increased use of mobile phones and other regular technology.

This finding could very likely be due to any prolonged activity in which overuse of your head being forced down for extended periods and far from its neutral position. Mobile phones certainly are one of those activities.   Text Neck however has been well reported on for the past decade.   And if we are starting to see increased bone in the skull it is also important to think what other postural strains are affecting the spine in general.

The Ergonomic Equation

Many patients often think or ask me if this is just due to age and is normal if we are evaluating one aspect of their spinal health through imaging. This is a great modern example that it has everything to do with movement and the Ergonomic Equation of Force x Posture x Frequency x Duration.

Age only factors to a degree into Frequency and Duration. That is, they have had more time and opportunity potentially for poor posture and forces to affect the health of their bones and movement.

Consider this: it's has not been uncommon in practice to find a young rugby player with more degeneration in their neck or spine vs an older person in their 60's with nearly none. In the rugby players' lives, they've been subjected to higher forces in a bad posture, possibly quite frequently and the body is forced to adapt much faster.

Conversely, older people who have avoided any significant traumas, poor postures at work at a desk, and who exercise and stretch regularly often have healthier spinal movement.

Text Neck Over Time

Habit Forming Activity This School Holidays

For those parents getting the opportunity to spend more time with children these school holidays, a great new habit for the family to implement is to ensure that you adopt good posture when using your mobile phone or another tech device, so you don't develop phone bone or text neck.   Hold your phone at eye level instead of looking down. Also, avoid holding your phone for an extended period with a forward head posture.

Phone Bone Texting

Even better, making it a goal to limit phone and tech use to very minimal amounts, as well as get outside, move, play and be active!   Your neck and spine will thank you and so will your brain!   Physical activity will provide so much benefit for both you and your families health and well-being.

Want To Get Checked These School Holidays?

Keep your spine in tip-top condition by getting evaluated. I am currently providing FREE Your Health and Motion Matter's (YHMM) Case Reviews to you and your family if you have not been checked before or in a long time. Find out more here.

Dr. Michael J Egan

Dr. Michael J Egan is the Director of Motion Health Centre and Principal Sports Chiropractor, Registered Trigenics Practitioner and Provider of the Frozen Shoulder Procedure.

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