Mobile phone users are increasingly suffering from a new condition, dubbed “text neck”, due to the amount of time they spend hunched over their gadgets, experts have claimed.

According to them, the affliction, caused by flexing the neck for extended periods of time, can be a forerunner of arthritic damage if it goes without treatment. In severe cases the muscles could eventually adapt to fit the flexed position, making it painful to straighten the neck out properly.

Rachael Lancaster of Freedom Back Clinics in Leeds said, “Text neck is caused by the neck being flexed for a prolonged period of time. Sufferers are increasing as the use of smart phones and tablet computers become more popular.”

The condition occurs because the joints and tissue in the neck are not built to withstand being flexed for long periods, and spending hours peering down at a screen puts them under too much stress, she added.

“Keeping the neck and head stretched forwards for long periods could eventually cause the natural curvature of the neck to reverse, potentially leading to serious health problems,” ‘The Daily Telegraph’ quoted her as saying.

Tim Hutchful, of the British Chiropractic Association, another expert, said doctors were seeing a rising number of patients with similar neck problems but that getting regular exercise could help ward of symptoms.

Children are most at risk because their heads are larger in relation to their body size than adults, and women with slender necks should also take extra care to maintain a good posture, he added.

However, the experts say that text neck can be avoided by taking regular screen breaks, and looking straight ahead while tucking the chin back towards the neck every few minutes.