Are smartphones causing your child to grow horns?

Over the past 30 years, technology has advanced rapidly. Seeing someone bent over a mobile phone or another gadget is now an extremely common part of our society. Recent research by chiropractor, David Sahar and biomechanist, Mark Sayer revealed a bold statement that the overuse of smartphones has caused horns to grow out of the skulls of 18-30 year olds. These growths were known as “enlarged external occipital protuberance,” also known as EEOP or bone spurs.

The claims stated that because the spine has been unnaturally bent forward over extended periods of time, more weight is put on the muscles at the back of the neck which causes the back of the head to increase the surface area so it can distribute the weight more evenly and support the neck muscles. This is where the “horns” come in.

However, after some attention from other scientists, this theory was very quickly debunked. People of all generations have been tilting their necks and looking down in this position for many years, e.g. when reading a newspaper, working on desks, bad posture and so on. Paleoanthropologist, John Hawks, who studies human evolution at the University of Wisconsin stated that Sahar & Sayer “haven’t provided the data to back up their claim”.

The biggest flaw of this research comes from the fact that the study did not measure smartphone usage in the 1200 patients that were examined. Typical posture of the patients was also not assessed, the study only assumes that those aged between 18-30 would have used mobile devices more than the older patients without any data to support the claims.

Another factor that shows this study is flawed is that this one did not have a random, representative sample and is therefore not applicable to the public because the study does not represent the general public. In fact, this study was only based on patients who visited the chiropractor, adding to this it was only those who reported mild symptoms that were included in the research, those with severe symptoms were excluded.

It was later revealed that Sahar has an online store that sells posture pillows so the research is not only inaccurate but may have been titled with a striking headline to deliberately work toward a marketing strategy that will allow him to gain more sales. With a bit of help from the media, this research quickly went viral and was picked up by many news outlets.

Despite the chronic misinformation of Sahar’s & Sayer’s research, the facts that do stand true is that modern technology has dramatically damaged our posture. Issues like “text neck” is now a common problem amongst the public which has increased back and neck pain amongst those of all ages. At Enfield Osteopathic Clinic, we can help combat these problems and restore good posture. Our methods not only alleviate the pain but also teaches patients exercises & stretches they can do away from us, making them more conscious of their posture throughout the day and preventing further damage.


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