The Secret to Why You Are Likely Suffering from Chronic Neck and Upper Back Pain

By Saree Reveling |

How is Your Posture?

Do you sit at a desk several hours a day? A majority of Americans spend much of their day in front a computer screen. Compounding this problem is that many people read in bed or use their laptops or smartphones in bed. Looking down at paperwork or computerized devices on a continual basis eventually results in a forward head carriage and an increase in the flattening of the curvature in the neck. This wreaks havoc on the upper back and neck resulting in rounded shoulders and curvature of the spine. Over time, this develops into chronic pan and long-term injuries if not treated appropriately. Some of the symptoms people notice is numbness and tingling in their arms and hands, pain and stiffness in their shoulders and neck, prickly sensations, pins and needles sensations and a searing or hot pain. So, where does Upper Crossed Syndrome fit into this? Many of of the people suffering from upper back and neck pain that come into my office have developed Upper Crossed Syndrome.

What is Upper Crossed Syndrome? 

View Showing Weak & Tight Musculature of Upper Crossed Syndrome 

Upper Crossed Syndrome is tightness of the upper trapezius and levator scapula muscles on the dorsal side crossed with tightness of the pectoralis major and minor musculature. Weakness of the deep cervical flexors crosses with weakness of the middle and lower trapezius muscles. In layman's terms, the chest muscles and lower neck muscles are tight while the upper back muscles and front neck muscles are weak. This pattern of imbalance creates joint dysfunction.

All Seasons Full Body Chiropractic Center's Approach to Upper Crossed Syndrome Treatment

Many chiropractic offices will adjust the neck and the upper back which does calm down some of the muscle spasming but this provides only short term relief and does not alleviate the root cause of the problem. In our office we not only work on breaking down the fibrous tissues in those areas, we also adjust the extremities such as the shoulder blades, arms, wrists and fingers. Most of the patients I have seen with Upper Crossed Syndrome actually have more problems with their shoulder blades and collarbone. We also do further screening so we really know what type of injuries we are working with. The screenings also provide our patients with an objective view of their current condition and progress as the treatment progresses. 

MyoVision Stress Score
We know patients like to be able to see for themselves what is going on with their body. We do this through full body testing on the first visit and then periodically through a patient's treatment plan. Our MyoVision Technology, Manual Muscle Testing and PostureScreen Mobile Testing provides a complete view of your posture, muscle strength and stress levels placed on the body. For more information on our testing:


PostureScreen Mobile Testing 
We also take x-rays for objective findings. When I look at these x-rays I usually see a decrease in the proper lordosis (excessive inward curvature of the spine).

SymPostureScreen Mobile reportptoms of Upper Crossed Syndrome

Upper back pain, chronic headaches, numbness and tingling in the arms and hands, and chest and frontal neck pain, searing or hot pain, pins and needles sensation, pain and stiffness and a prickly sensation are just some of the symptoms noticed with Upper Crossed Syndrome.  Thoracic Outlet Syndrome is also associated with these symptoms. Individuals with chronic symptoms will notice them recurring shortly after spinal adjustments if proper strengthening exercises and treatment are not performed. In addition, unhealthy activities such as working or reading in bed and improper desk ergonomics must be addressed to ensure proper healing.

I find that in a vast majority of the cases, adjusting the shoulder muscles and collarbone will calm down the muscle tension in the scapular muscles as well as the upper trapezius muscles. Often, it will alleviate tension in the pectoral muscles as well because those muscles tend to get tight and strained when the posture goes downhill and the shoulders start to round out and arms hang forward.

Exercises & Posture Taping for Upper Crossed Syndrome

When treating my patients for Upper Crossed Syndrome, I always provide muscle strengthening exercises for them to perform at home. Muscle strengthening is essential to healing this type of injury.

Posture Taping
In our office, we provide posture taping with Rock Tape. Rock Tape provides posture support and relief for people suffering from Upper Crossed Syndrome. Rock Tape can also be purchased through Amazon or the Rock Tape Website. Stretch the skin by rolling both shoulders forward focusing on rounding the upper back. Imagine an X and apply the center of the tape where the two strips will meet. Lay down the first end towards the shoulder and the second end towards the armpit with no stretch. Repeat the previous step for the second strip, creating an X. For more information about Rock Tape, call our office at (701) 356-0016 for a professional application with treatment or go to Rock Tape Website.
Head Retraction
Begin by tucking in your chin slightly then draw your head upward toward the ceiling in a straight-line movement. Pause at end range for 4 seconds before returning to starting position. Perform 2 sets of 10 repetitions. This can also be performed in the seated position.
Postural Exercise
Stand up straight with your hands at your sides. Begin by bending your elbows slightly as you rotate your arms outward. Slowly pull your shoulders back and down as you gently retract your head. Perform 2 sets of 10 repetitions. 
Floor Angels
Begin lying face up on floor with knees bent. Place arms with elbows bent comfortably on the floor with palms facing up. Slide arms upward above your head while maintaining forearm contact with the floor. Do not let your back arch upward. Slowly return to starting position and repeat. Perform 2 sets of 10 repetitions.

Could Your Fibromyalgia Be a Bio-mechanical Problem Such as Upper Crossed Syndrome?

Some people believe that fibromyalgia is simply a chemical type problem. When you go into a medical office and they diagnose you with fibromyalgia, they will prescribe different medications to treat overactive and irritable nerves and muscles. What I'm finding is that some people do have chemical issues going on that may need to be addressed however, there's a vast majority of people with bio-mechanical issues related to the spine and extremities. We take people through the screening tests to narrow down whether bio-mechanical issues are the whole problem or simply part of the problem. The more we can stabilize bio-mechanical issues in our fibromyalgia patients, the more they will improve their function so they can get back to doing what moves them. Dr. Bekkum shares more on Fibromyalgia here: Fibromyalgia in Fargo - Breaking Free of Chronic Pain.

 For more information about treatment for chronic pain and chiropractic care at All Seasons Full Body Chiropractic Center, click on the following links:

Chiropractic Care

Pain Relief

Check out Dr. Paul's Podcast, "Drugless Life" and this episode on Upper Crossed Syndrome.

Dr. Paul Bekkum leads the team of health care professionals at All Seasons Full Body Chiropractic Center. His life's mission is to help people live active and healthy lives.  Dr. Bekkum believes that pain doesn't have to be a life-long sentence.  By focusing on a person's whole body, Dr. Bekkum can help detect, correct, and prevent health problems. Dr. Bekkum was born and raised in River Falls, WI, and attended University of Wisconsin - River Falls, then graduated from Northwestern College of Chiropractic in 1992.  In addition to being a Doctor of Chiropractic, Dr. Paul Bekkum is a Certified Chiropractic Sports Practitioner and has a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Biology.  Dr. Bekkum is a team chiropractor for the NDSU Rodeo team. All Seasons Full Body Chiropractic Center is located at 1102 43rd Street S, Suite F, Fargo, ND 5103; (701) 356-0016

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Posted in Chiropractic Adjustments, Headaches, Pain Relief, Fibromyalgia