This blog was written by Dr. Morgan Toone. Today, Dr. Toone discusses the common signs and symptoms of Upper Cross Syndrome, and what you can do to avoid this painful condition.
Have you ever felt an intense pain in your neck and upper back after a long day at work? This a common complaint from people with desk jobs. This condition is called Upper Cross Syndrome, or UCS, and it’s caused mainly from poor posture and slouching. Let’s be real here: While you are sitting for eight hours a day at work, you’re likely in a slouched and “beaten down” position. These long hours of slouching put stress on your neck and spine, and at the end of the day that tension will leave you feeling achy and exhausted.
Postural ergonomics are essential for good back and neck health, which is why eventually your body is going to tell you to stop slouching. Unfortunately, the body’s only way to communicate is via pain. But pain is not always a bad thing. If we know what our body is trying to tell us, we can learn how to fix the problem.
Identifying Upper Cross Syndrome
The first things to identify are the types of pain you’re experiencing and the location. In Upper Cross Syndrome, the neck and upper back muscles will create painful knots to try to pull you back upright to avoid slouching forward. The next thing these muscles will do is spasm – it feels like they are throwing a temper tantrum for attention.
The symptoms of Upper Cross Syndrome are usually localized at the base of the neck and shoulders, and sometimes can be felt in the upper back. Pain from UCS often feels very tight, especially when bringing your head towards your chest. You might experience a pinching or stabbing pain when looking up towards the ceiling. Many patients with UCS equate this sensation to “being stabbed by an ice pick” or “a hot poker,” and you may also experience headaches that wrap around your head, adding pressure to an already painful experience.
While this condition is common and those are the usual identifiers for Upper Cross Syndrome, it is important to get checked out by your Airrosti Provider or primary care physician to rule out other possible medical conditions.
How to Avoid UCS
Improve Your Posture – The best way to avoid Upper Cross Syndrome is to improve your posture. Practice proper posture when sitting and try to take short breaks throughout the day to walk around and stretch. This article is a great resource for UCS prevention tips, with a few easy stretches and exercises you can try at home to help avoid UCS and relax any muscle tightness at the end of a long day.
Stand Up When You Work – Proper desk set-up is also important for encouraging correct posture and preventing neck pain. To take tension off your neck and shoulders, make sure that your computer monitor is at eye level and your desk is not too high or too low. It should be at a level so that your arms are bent at 90-degrees. You can also switch it up with a standing desk to further your posture practice.
Stretch It Out – Taking a break from work to stretch your muscles a few times during the day can also help relieve the symptoms of Upper Cross Syndrome. Stretching at work is a great way to reduce muscle fatigue and improve your posture. Try a few stretches and yoga poses to alleviate the stiffness in your muscles and work on your flexibility throughout the day.
Airrosti Can Help!
At Airrosti, our main goal is to help treat your Upper Cross Syndrome at its source and relieve that nagging pain in your neck and back. We combine targeted manual therapy with personal stretching and strengthening exercises that can restore function and balance. Schedule an appointment with us today, and get rid of your UCS pain for good.
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