This is a very common problem and is endemic in society as we spend more and more of our time sitting at computers, driving or simply slouching on the sofa. By definition it is a muscle imbalance, where the muscles at the front of the shoulders, arms and chest (the ‘upper-cross’ muscles) slowly become tight and restricted. This pulls the shoulders and head forward and encourages the upper back to curve more giving the upper body a slouched appearance. The upper back, shoulders and neck start to develop muscle tension/stress, which causes a dull aching pain. In severe cases trapped nerves start to develop behind the collarbones as they shift forwards (thoracic outlet syndrome).
Symptoms of Upper-cross syndrome:

  • Pain in shoulders, neck, shoulder blades and upper back
  • Tightness in chest and at the front of arms, shoulders and neck
  • Tendency to slouch
  • Pain aggravated by sitting at computer, driving or slouching
  • Pain, numbness, tingling, weakness in the arms (severe cases)

Upper-cross syndrome requires a careful and expert diagnosis by a trained professional. It is a common presentation in clinic and where appropriate, receives careful and expert treatment. Firstly an assessment and analysis is performed to establish how serious the problem is and then, if appropriate, gentle treatment is performed to stabilize structures, reduce inflammation, and facilitate the healing of the structures causing the symptoms.
Unfortunately the damage cannot be reversed but gentle techniques along with mobilising, stretching and strengthening can restore function and decrease pain and immobility. Please call to talk to a trained professional if you want to know more.