What is upper cross syndrome?


What is upper cross syndrome?

Upper Cross Syndrome, also known as Proximal or Shoulder Girdle Cross Syndrome, is a muscular imbalance that occurs in the neck, upper spine and shoulder girdle of the body. This condition affects the muscles of the upper body, with some the muscles in the front and back of the upper body becoming tight, whilst others become weak. Upper cross syndrome (UCS) is generally the result of poor posture, as the tight and weak muscles lead to a forward hanging head, rounded shoulders and increased spinal curves in the neck and mid-back. This condition is highly common amongst people who spend a lot of time seated in the incorrect position.

UCS causes the pectorals muscles in the front of the chest to become tight and the superficial muscles at the neck (upper trapezius) and shoulder blades (levator scapulae) to become weak. These affected muscles form an X shape in the upper part of the body, thus giving it the name Upper Cross Syndrome.

As mentioned above, USC is typically the result of poor posture, especially if you spend copious amounts of time with your head in a forward hanging position. The is position is mainly adopted when one is reading, watching TV, biking, driving, or using a laptop/ smartphone. It is also possible for USC to manifest due to a congenital defect or injury.

Due to UCS causing the neck and shoulder to rest in an “abnormal” position as a result of the deformity of the affected muscles, it can put a strain on the surrounding joints, bones, muscles and tendons in the upper body. This strain can cause many people afflicted with this syndrome to experience the following symptoms:

  • neck pain
  • headaches
  • weakness in the front of the neck
  • restricted movement in the neck and shoulders
  • a strain in the back of the neck
  • pain in the upper back, shoulders and lower back
  • tightness and pain in the chest, as well as pain and reduced movement in the ribs
  • jaw pain
  • fatigue
  • difficulty sitting to read, watch TV or drive for long periods of time
  • pain, numbness or a tingling sensation in the upper arms

Treatment for upper cross syndrome typically includes a combination of manual therapy and prescribed exercises by an osteopath. Manual treatment aims to release the stiff muscles around the neck, shoulders and chest, while the exercises are used to strengthen and stretch the weakened, tight muscles. The osteopath may need to mobilise and manipulate the shoulder, ribs and spinal joints to promote the healing process.

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms or think you may have an upper cross posture, it is best to contact a musculoskeletal specialist, such as an osteopath, chiropractor or physiotherapist as soon as possible. These professionals are able to assess, identify and diagnose your condition and its cause, as well as advise you on an appropriate treatment plan to reduce or prevent the pain and dysfunction.

Osteopathy takes a holistic approach to treating musculoskeletal ailments. It can be used to diagnose, treat and prevent MSK conditions. Osteopathy is a complimentary form of treatment that can be used alongside other forms of treatment such as physiotherapy.

At OsteoVision, our musculoskeletal specialists are trained to treat a wide range of conditions. Please contact us if you would like to discuss your symptoms, would like to book an appointment, or require more information about Upper Cross Syndrome.

Call:                 03303 904 300

Email:             info@osteovision.life

You can also book an appointment online at www.osteovision.life

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OsteoWest Health and Sports Clinic- Osteopath. 2019. Upper Cross Syndrome – OsteoWest Health and Sports Clinic- Osteopath. [online] Available at: <https://osteowest.com.au/finding-the-balance-upper-crossed-syndrome/#:~:text=Treatment%20for%20UCS%20usually%20includes,and%20stretch%20the%20tight%20muscles.> [Accessed 16 December 2021].
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