Your posture plays an important role in your overall health. Poor posture leads to chronic strain and discomfort. “Upper crossed syndrome” describes poor posture that results from excessive tightness in your shoulders and chest with weakness in your neck and mid-back. This combination forces your shoulders to roll inward and your head to project forward.
To help understand how upper crossed syndrome causes trouble, think of your spine as a telephone pole and your head as a bowling ball that sits on top. When the bowling ball is positioned directly over the top of the upright post, very little effort is required to keep it in place. If you tip the post forward and the ball begins to roll over the edge of the post, significantly more effort would be required from the muscles trying to hold it there. This effort results in chronic strain of the muscles of your neck and upper back.
The chronic strain is uncomfortable and may also lead to neck pain, upper back pain, headaches, TMJ pain, and ultimately- arthritis. This postural problem is exceptionally common in computer workstation users. Correction of this problem is accomplished by stretching the tight muscles, strengthening weak muscles, and modifying your workstation.
Here is a brief description of the treatments we may use to help manage your problem.
Your chiropractor has found joints in your body that are not moving freely. This can cause tightness and discomfort and can accelerate unwanted degeneration i.e. arthritis. Your chiropractor will apply a gentle force with their hands, or with hand held instruments, in order to restore motion to any “restricted” joints. Sometimes a specialized table will be used to assist with these safe and effective “adjustments”. Joint manipulation improves flexibility, relieves pain and helps maintain healthy joints.
We may apply electrotherapy modalities that produce light electrical pulses transmitted through electrodes placed over your specific sites of concern. These comfortable modalities work to decrease your pain, limit inflammation and ease muscle spasm. Hot or cold packs are often used in conjunction, to enhance the effect of these modalities. Another available option is therapeutic ultrasound. Ultrasound pushes sound vibrations into tissues. When these vibrations reach your deep tissues, heat develops and unwanted waste products are dispersed.
Overworked muscles often become tight and develop knots or “trigger points”. Chronic tightness produces inflammation and swelling that ultimately leads to the formation of “adhesions” between tissues. Your chiropractor will apply pressure with their hands, or with specialized tools, in order to release muscle tightness and soft-tissue adhesions. This will help to improve your circulation, relieve pain and restore flexibility.
Muscle tightness or weakness causes discomfort and alters normal joint function, leading to additional problems. Your chiropractor will target tight or weak muscles with specific therapeutic stretching and strengthening to help increase tissue flexibility, build strength, and ease pain. Healthy, strong, and flexible muscles may help prevent re-injury.
After this initial course of treatment we will reassess your progress. We will determine the need for any additional care after your reassessment.
To avoid neck and upper back pain from improper neck support:
- Select a pillow that will hold your head in a neutral position while sleeping on your side or back.
- Avoid excessively thick or multiple pillows.
- Choose a fiberfill or feather/down pillow as these are usually better than foam.
- Consider a commercially available pillow that promotes good neck posture.
Ergonomics is the science of adjusting your workstation to minimize strain in the following ways:
- Wrists should not be bent while at the keyboard. Forearms and wrists should not be leaning on a hard edge.
- Use audio equipment that keeps you from bending your neck (i.e., Bluetooth, speakerphones, headsets).
- Monitors should be visible without leaning or straining and the top line of type should be 15 degrees below eye level.
- Use a lumber roll for lower back support.
- Avoid sitting on anything that would create an imbalance or uneven pressure (like your wallet).
- Take a 10-second break every 20 minutes: Micro activities include: standing, walking, or moving your head in a “plus sign” fashion.
- Periodically, perform the “Brugger relief position” -Position your body at the chair’s edge, feet pointed outward. Weight should be on your legs and your abdomen should be relaxed. Tilt your pelvis forward, lift your sternum, arch your back, drop your arms, and roll out your palms while squeezing your shoulders together. Take a few deep cleansing breaths.