'Text neck' is threatening permanent damage to people who spend too much time hunched over their mobile phones and tablet computers, chiropractors have warned.

The condition is apparently on the rise and can in some cases lead to permanent arthritic damage if treatment is not sought.

In the worst cases of 'text neck', muscles adapt to fit the hunched position, which makes it painful to stretch the neck out properly.

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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 becomes more popular."

One chiropractor claimed her company had treated thousands of patients for 'text neck', which is also said to cause headaches and shoulder, arm and wrist pain.

Lancaster added: "Imagine sitting on your ankle sideways for 10 minutes. It would feel stiff and sore when you returned it to its natural position.

"However, that is exactly what people are doing with their necks. If people continue to put their necks in these positions, the body will gradually adapt to the stresses.

"Because the head and neck move forwards, it will eventually lead to a reversal of the natural curve of the neck."

To avoid the risk of 'text neck', mobile phone users should sit up straight as they text and hold the phone a little higher than usual when texting.

Exercises to help combat the condition include rotating the shoulders while keeping arms by your sides – this increases blood-flow to the shoulders – and looking straight ahead every few minutes, during which you should pull the chin back into the neck and hold the position for a number of seconds.

Chiropractors also recommend that we take regular breaks from texting. You have been warned.