Upper Crossed Syndrome and Chiropractic

Chiropractic, postural changes, neck and shoulder pain

More and more often we are seeing patients in the clinic with headaches, pains in the neck, upper back, jaw (TMJ) and shoulders as well as many more symptoms that can be caused from a postural change called upper cross syndrome.

The most common signs can include:

  • forward head carriage,
  • rounded shoulders
  • an increase in the curve of the upper back.

In general, prolonged posture whether sitting at a desk, driving or even reading can lead to slow but significant change in the balance of the bodies muscles, ligaments and joints with the eventual result of a compensatory posture.

If left to worsen, changes can occur to the bone and prevent return to a normal and efficient posture.

What is Upper Crossed Syndrome?

Upper cross syndrome is a collection of these changes that leads to change in tone of the muscles, followed by muscle imbalance which leads to movement dysfunction and subsequent pain or discomfort.

As certain muscles tighten such as upper trapezius, pectoralis and SCMs, others such as the deep neck flexors and scapula stabilisers get weaker and are no longer able to support the body efficiently.

Less efficiency leads to higher use of energy and higher strain on the body which inevitably leads to symptoms - pain and tiredness.

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Symptoms of Upper Crossed Syndrome

Forward head carriage increases the curve of the cervical spine placing more strain on the joints and restricted range of movement in the neck.

This can lead to joint pain as well as reducing the space for the nerves to exit the spine leading to nerve entrapment, which can include numbness, pain, weakness or tingling in the arm.

In this position the muscles and ligaments may be under more strain end up becoming pain generators themselves.

Rounding of the shoulders leads to a decrease in the space around the shoulder joints, which can cause compression of muscles and tendons involved with shoulder movement as well as muscle strains and arthritis of the shoulder.

Also associated is the altered position of the shoulder blades, which acts as an anchor for many stabilising muscles for the back, neck and shoulders.

Thoracic outlet syndrome can occur as the posture worsens and the nerves and blood vessels around the neck and shoulders may become trapped.

Increased kyphosis or curvature of the mid-back (thoracic spine) is also seen, which can lead to rib pain and reduced movement of the ribs in this area as well as reduced lung capacity, which can affect everyday life and sporting performance depending on the severity.

What is the Cause of Upper Crossed Syndrome?

Upper cross syndrome develops silently often over many months or years and can often become symptomatic with a seemingly innocent movement.

If left untreated the symptoms can progress and start affecting the function of the low back and pelvis.

It is therefore not uncommon to see both Upper Crossed Syndrome and Lower Crossed Syndrome together.

Using the collection of symptoms and use of special tests chiropractors can easily diagnose this syndrome and put together a plan to start reversing the changes.

Treatment can include spinal manipulation as well as muscle stretching techniques and work on rehabilitation to strengthen those muscles that have become weak.

Don’t let these symptoms sneak up on you, have your posture checked by one of our chiropractors to find out how you can benefit from chiropractic care.

Find out more about chiropractic treatment contact the ISIS Chiropractic Centres Now!

For enquiries please call:

Chiropractic Care

Milton Keynes: 01908 307075
Northampton: 01604 460200
Aylesbury: 01296 489231

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