Muscle imbalances will pull on the spine, pelvis, rib cage, legs and knees causing altered posture that places unwanted strain on our joints. Chiropractic adjustments can help to restore function and motion to the joints and balance tight and weak muscles. In addition, proper stretching and strengthening exercises should be performed to further correct any imbalance. You can find these exercises in my posts on Upper Cross Syndrome & Lower Cross Syndrome.
Posted by Dr. Keri Linane, Chiropractor
Revive Chiropractic Studio
Montclair Village Oakland
Chronic Neck, Mid Back And Shoulder Pain: What You Need To Know About Upper Cross Syndrome & How To Treat It
You may have never heard of Upper Cross Syndrome but it is very common among patients with neck and/or mid back pain.
What Is Upper Cross Syndrome?
Upper Cross Syndrome is an imbalance in the neck and shoulder/mid back muscles that results in an altered posture. This altered posture puts stress on the neck and mid back resulting in chronic neck and/or mid back pain.
In Upper Cross the front neck muscles (neck flexors) and mid back muscles between the shoulder blades (rhomboids & lower traps) become over stretched and weakened. The opposite muscles begin to compensate causing the back neck muscles (sub occipitals & upper traps) and the chest muscles (pecs) to become tight and overworked. This imbalance in the muscles causes the neck to protrude forward in relation to the rest of the body further stressing the neck and mid back. We call this forward head posture or anterior head carriage.
What Causes Upper Cross Syndrome?
This altered posture typically results from spinal misalignments and/or repetitive stresses due to working at a desk, studying, prolonged iphone/ipad and/or prolonged driving, When we sit and work at a desk we tend to hunch forward, rolling our shoulders and neck forward. Sitting in this posture for long periods of time will weaken the front neck muscles and mid back muscles causing the back neck muscles and chest muscles to tighten in order to try to correct this altered posture.
In addition to affecting the neck and mid back, this alteration in posture will also stress the shoulder joints. Under this stress the shoulder can become misaligned resulting in pain and decreased range of motion.
Signs Of Upper Cross Syndrome
Longterm Affects Of Upper Cross Syndrome
If left untreated, Upper Cross Syndrome will cause chronic pain and muscles tension that place unwanted stress on the joints of our spine and shoulders. This extra stress along with misalignments can create extra wear and tear and our joints eventually leading to arthritis and degeneration of the joint.
How To Correct Upper Cross Syndrome
Chiropractic adjustments are great for realigning the spine and shoulder and helping to release muscle tension. In addition to chiropractic care, patients will want to take preventative approach including proper posture and exercise to support the chiropractic treatments.
Ensure proper posture when working at a desk, studying, using phones, driving, etc. by rounding the shoulders back and pulling the chin in to bring the neck back over the body. You can also concentrate on pulling the shoulder blades together, as this will bring the shoulders back into the correct posture. If you work at a desk or use the computer make sure to have a proper set up. Wrists would be in a neutral position and you should be sitting up with feet flat on the floor or standing at your desk.
Exercises For Upper Cross Syndrome
For more information on Upper Cross Syndrome and treatment please contact Dr. Keri Linane
You may also be interested in Lower Cross Syndrome
By Dr. Keri Linane
Chiropractor at Revive Chiropractic in Oakland, Ca
A large majority of patients in my office who complain of low back pain are usually suffering from the symptoms of Lower Cross Syndrome. You may not have heard of this syndrome before but it is very prevalent and should be given much consideration when dealing with low back pain.
I typically see this syndrome in low back pain patients who sit for long periods of time or are sedentary. This typically results from working at a desk, studying, driving, watching too much TV, etc. Sitting for long periods of time is one of the worst things we can do for our backs and our health. Long term sitting can result in muscle degeneration, back and neck pain, organ dysfunction, leg disorders and heart disease, just to name a few. When sitting some of our muscles deactivate (weaken) while others become tight. This creates an imbalance in our muscles which will alter our posture causing low back pain. We refer to this specific imbalance of the lower back, hips and legs as lower cross syndrome
Signs of Lower Cross Syndrome - patients may present with 1 or more of the following:
What is Lower Cross Syndrome
Lower Cross Syndrome is an imbalance in the core stabilizing muscles. The imbalance is created by some muscles being weak and some muscles being tight. Patients with this imbalance will have weak abdominal and glute muscles with tight low back and hip muscles.
Imbalances in our core stabilizing muscles can cause us a lot of trouble and pain. When some muscles are weak and others are tight, our low back and hips (pelvis) are pulled into an unhealthy posture. The hips rotate forward which compresses the low back joints, creating chronic low back pain (typically at L4/L5, L5/Sacrum, SI Joints) and increased lumbar curvature.
As you can see, the tight low back muscles cause the back to hyperextend which compresses the joints of the spine. This can result in pain, nerve irritation and, if left untreated, can cause long term conditions such as arthritis, disc degeneration, disc herniations and spondylosis (abnormal positioning of a vertebra/spinal bone).
This altered posture can also result in hip and knee pain. The legs attach to the hips and in the altered posture both are pulled out of their normal positions. This creates abnormal stress in the hips and knees, which, can result in pain and uneven wear and tear on the joints.
How To Correct This Imbalance:
In order to correct this muscle imbalance we must strengthen the weak muscles and stretch the tight muscles.
By Dr. Keri Linane
Montclair Oakland, Ca Chiropractor