Mobile phone users take note. You are at a high risk of developing a new condition, coined as “text neck”, due to the amount of time you spend hunched over your gadgets.
Health experts in the UK have warned that the affliction, caused by flexing the neck for extended periods of time, can be a forerunner of permanent arthritic damage if it goes without treatment.
They said cases of the repetitive strain injury are on the rise as smartphones and tablet computers such as the iPad become increasingly popular, the Telegraph reported.
In severe cases, the muscles can eventually adapt to fit the flexed position, making it painful to straighten the neck out properly.
One chiropractor said her company had treated thousands of patients for the condition, which can also result in headaches and shoulder, arm and wrist pain.
“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,” said Rachael Lancaster, of Freedom Back Clinics in Leeds.
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.
The condition can be avoided by taking regular screen breaks, and looking straight ahead while tucking the chin back towards the neck every few minutes.
Rotating the shoulders with your arms by your sides, sitting up straight while texting and holding the phone a little higher can also help maintain a healthy posture.
Tim Hutchful, of the British Chiropractic Association, 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.