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Identifying Upper Cross Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

upper cross syndrome

Upper Cross Syndrome (UCS) is a disorder that affects the upper torso, neck, and shoulders. It causes postural irregularities as well as muscle and joint dysfunction. A biomechanical chain connects all of the muscles in the human body.

It can happen when one muscle group becomes weak, and another overworks to make up for it causing postural dysfunction and muscle imbalances in the neck, shoulder area, and mid-back.

Causes of Upper Cross Syndrome

Most cases of upper cross syndrome are brought on by poor posture, long periods of head-forward posture, whether standing or sitting.

Long periods spent using a computer, watching television, or talking on the phone weaken the neck flexor muscles and shorten and tighten the pectoral and upper trapezius muscles, pushing the spine forward.

In a limited number of cases, congenital traumas or limitations can lead to the development of upper cross syndrome.


causes of upper cross syndrome
Due to the stress that postural imbalances place on the tissues in the upper body and neck, the most common symptoms of the upper cross syndrome are:
  • Neck pain
  • Headaches
  • Tightness or pain in the upper chest
  • Shoulder and upper back pain
  • Reduced neck range of motion
  • Arm pain, pins and needles, or numbness
  • Discomfort when sitting for long periods


Home Exercises:

treatments of upper cross syndrome
Chin Tuck:

Bend in a 4-point hold on your hands and knees while keeping your back parallel to the ground and your head in line with your spine. Extend your head back, and push your chin towards the ground.
Tuck your chin towards the chest. Repeat this 5-10 times.

Shoulder Blade Retraction:

Sit with your back straight and head in a neutral position. Squeeze your shoulder blades together as though you are trying to keep a walnut between them.

Hold the position for 10 seconds. Return to the starting point. Repeat 5 times

Trapezius Stretch:

Start seated, and turn your head so that you are looking at your armpit. With the same arm of the armpit you are looking at, place it over your head.

Pull your head towards your armpit with gentle pressure. Hold for at least 25 seconds before repeating on the opposite side.

Chiropractic Management:

Over time, tight and weak muscles can cause misalignment and degeneration of the spine, particularly the neck, when the upper crossed syndrome is present. Chiropractic care can help manage your symptoms and restore your posture so that you are not overstressing your spine.

Chiropractic treatment may include:

  • Spinal adjustments
  • Massage and trigger point therapy
  • Active release and stretches
  • Posture guidance
  • Lifestyle changes and recommendations

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