Ever since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, more people have found themselves having to adapt to working from home.  Those without a proper home office have led them to use their couches or beds as their desks.

Unfortunately, this way of working has led to some posture conditions such as upper crossed syndrome.  Upper crossed syndrome (UCS), also known as “postural dysfunction,” is when a person displays abnormal/impaired head and neck posture in sitting and standing.  There are several muscles and structures in the shoulders and cervical spine that are impacted by this condition.

The good news is that physical therapy can help! Contact Cawley Physical Therapy now to make an appointment with us!

Now, let’s learn more about upper crossed syndrome.

Muscles and Structures Affected by Upper Crossed Syndrome

Because UCS causes your neck, shoulders, and chest muscles to become deformed, these muscles are the most affected by this condition.  Some of these include the back muscles within the shoulder and the neck, like the upper trapezius and the levator scapula.  These muscles start to become strained and overactive.  The muscles in front of the chest called the major and minor pectoralis also start to become tight and shortened.

While those muscles become overactive, the opposite occurs to other muscles in the neck and shoulders.  Cervical flexor muscles in the front of the neck and the rhomboid and lower trapezius muscles in the shoulders start to weaken due to being underused.  The serratus anterior also starts to become inhibited.  The condition worsens when the overactive and underactive muscles begin to overlap and form an X shape.

What Causes Upper Crossed Syndrome?

This condition is caused by a person consistently sitting on their laptops or other devices with their shoulders hunched and head shifted forward.  This also starts to affect the way they stand.  Most people who have started working from home without proper office equipment have become prone to doing this.  However, the more they keep at it, the more this will lead to tissue dysfunction and derangement in the neck and shoulders area.  Your spine and back also become affected as the condition progresses.  End range stress or static loading of normal tissues also occurs in people who continue to maintain poor posture.

What Are the Symptoms?

If you start to develop rounded shoulders and a bent-forward neck, you may exhibit UCS signs.  The deformity of your neck and shoulder muscles causes people to develop various symptoms.  These symptoms inhibit a person physically as well as their ability to function every day.  Some of these you must watch for include:

  • Neck pain
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Jaw pain
  • Problems moving the neck and shoulders
  • Pain and lack of movement in the ribs
  • Upper and lower back pain
  • Trouble sitting to read or watch TV
  • Problems with driving
  • Pain symptoms are a gradual onset and usually described as an aching discomfort

Treating Upper Crossed Syndrome

Like with most conditions, there are various methods to treating the UCS condition.  Some of these forms of treatment include chiropractic care, exercise, and, of course, physical therapy.  Some medical professionals use laser therapy or electrotherapy modalities to reduce pain and alleviate symptoms.

However, what could also make a difference is making some better changes in your home office.  This science of being efficient in your work is called ergonomics.  By having an ergonomic assessment of your home office, you will be able to improve your posture and work effectively in your office.

Call Cawley Physical Therapy for Your Upper Cross Syndrome

Physical therapy is one of the most effective treatments because it uses chiropractic care and exercises to alleviate your UCS condition.

Our trained physical therapists at Cawley Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation can develop a plan to improve your strength and range of motion within your head, neck, and shoulders.

To schedule an appointment with us now, please call our office at 570-208-2787.