Understanding Upper Crossed Syndrome and Its Effective Treatments

Sometimes, labels seem silly – maybe even redundant, while other times it is just nice to be able to organize something that may initially seem messy.


Today, we are going to wrap upper crossed syndrome into a nice, clean box.  We will start off talking about what it is.  Then, we can go on to learn about the causes followed by signs and symptoms of the syndrome.  We will top off our nice little box with the treatments and wrap it up in a pretty little bow called prevention.


 What is Upper Crossed Syndrome? 

Upper Crossed Syndrome is a crisscross of weak and over-tense muscles throughout your shoulders, neck, and chest.


If you have this syndrome, the muscles in the back of your neck and shoulders (upper trapezius and levator scapulae) get worked incredibly hard, leading to unnecessary stress and strain.  Your chest has major and minor pectoralis muscles.  These both shorten and tighten since they get used to molding to their new “improper” postural positions.


There is always a compensation happening- a give and take, so to speak.  So, in the midst of all of these muscles working overtime- you will find that some of the surrounding muscles, meant to work with the muscles mentioned above, stop getting used as intended and start weakening.  These weakened muscles in our crisscross include the muscles in the front of the neck (cervical flexor muscles) as well as the ones in your lower shoulders (rhomboid and lower trapezius muscles).


Causes of Upper Crossed Syndrome 

Poor, hunched posture is the main culprit here, along with an inactive lifestyle.  When you sit or stand for long periods of time with your head sitting forward, you are actually training your muscles to not function properly!  This can be caused by driving, working on a computer, messing around on your cellphone, reading, or even biking, lifting weights, and swimming!


Injuries and previously existing subluxations (spinal misalignments) can even be the cause of your upper crossed syndrome.  The best way to avoid even more pain and injury is to visit a chiropractor like the trusted doctors and Advanced Chiropractic Associates in Knoxville, TN.  Doctors like these create a personal healing plan just for you and the uniqueness of your body, to ensure the quickest and most effective course of action for the condition of your body!


Signs of Upper Crossed Syndrome 

A huge sign that you have this syndrome is if you experience a constantly forward leaning head.  A lot of pain can be associated with upper crossed syndrome.  Look out for stiffness in your neck and back as well as chronic pain and muscle damage.


An increased cervical lordosis as well as an increased thoracic kyphosis are also big signifiers.


This is basically when your spine develops an “unnatural” curve in your spine where your neck curves in and your upper back curves out, creating a hunch in your back.


Your shoulders will slump forward, and your shoulder blades will stick out instead of aligning straight down your back.


 Symptoms of Upper Crossed Syndrome  

There are many ways in which upper crossed syndrome impacts our bodies.  Here are the major pains and discomforts you will experience with this syndrome:


  • Fatigue and headaches
  • Pain when sitting for a time
  • Tingling or pain throughout your arms
  • Tightness and pain in your neck and chest
  • Tension on your backside and frailty in your frontside
  • Soreness in your shoulder blades, jaws, and lower back
  • Limited range of motion in the upper part of your body (neck, shoulders, ribs)


Upper Crossed Syndrome Treatments 

Your chiropractor knows just what exercises and physical therapy you need for correcting upper crossed syndrome.  While you may feel some pain or discomfort, it is still important to stretch!  Starting off easy is important- you can build into the deep stretches down the road.


Chiropractic will help you heal up a lot faster than exercises and therapy alone.  After an adjustment, your joints will be more aligned, allowing your involved muscles to relax and stretch accordingly.

Preventing Upper Crossed Syndrome 

What do they say?  The best treatment is prevention?


Try your darndest to avoid things that require you to sit with you head forward any amount of time.  If it is required for you to say, sit at your computer all day for work, then make sure to keep up on your good posture!  Check out this article for some posture tips.  On top of posture, you must also get up and move around pretty frequently.  Every 15-20 minutes is commonly suggested, though my last chiropractor even insisted on getting up every 5 minutes to move for 5 minutes!  After all, your motion and your physical health are directly correlated!


Some more ways to prevent upper crossed syndrome include:


  • Getting at least 30 minutes of cardio exercise in every day
  • Stretching and exercising those muscles in your neck, shoulders, back, and chest
  • Keep things like books, screens, and steering wheels at eye level


Contact your inspired chiropractors in Knoxville, Tennessee at Advanced Chiropractic to receive many more tips in treating and preventing this painfully uncomfortable syndrome.

Advanced Chiropractic Associates, PLLC 

7349 Chapman Hwy


Knoxville, TN 37920







About the Author


Kali S. Garcia is a natural health enthusiast.  As the owner and author of Mama Tea Social, she feels compelled to heal and the cold hard facts.  Connect with her on Facebook.









Lower Back, Neck and Shoulder Pain


When I originally came in a long time ago, my lower back and neck were the problems. And that was not until the year 2000. Accidents added up over time and my back was bothering me all the time.


Dr. Parson showed me what was the problem. I had been to the orthopedist with no help from meds and other trial stuff.


Until I found Chiropractic care I suffered needlessly for a long time.


Dr. Parson treated the problem in ways that have made a total difference.


My neck and upper back has improved greatly.









Lower Back, Neck and Shoulder Pain


When I originally came in 2012 my back pain was about an 8 out 10 and my neck and shoulders were always giving me problems. These things had been going on most of my life but getting worse.


My work and most of things I did around the house were being affected.


I tried over the counter pain meds and did not want medical care or surgery.


Since Chiropractic care my overall health has improved and no more pain in my entire back.


With regular maintenance I hardly ever have any pain and don’t take over the counter meds anymore.


L. M.








 Neck Pain, Shoulder Pain and Headaches


For about 8 years I had ongoing headaches and associate neck pain and shoulder problems.


I did not seek out any other treatment, maybe some over the counter medications.


Since Chiropractic care there is less tension and stress carried in my entire upper body.


Chiropractic care has been able to keep me in alignment for 8 years now. Not stopping now with my maintenance.









Neck Pain, Shoulder Pain


Balance Problems


For @ 3 years my neck had been hurting but started getting a little worse. I had been told it was arthritis but I also noticed my balance was also getting worse. I had numbness in both my hands, couldn’t bend my head or turn it and could hardly sleep. Not to mention I was also having vertigo.


It was affecting my life so bad I had to quit my job.


The MDs were giving me pain pills and I had some physical therapy which helped a little.


Came back to see if Dr. Parson could help. I saw how bad the x-rays were and he referred me to a Neurologist for the balance. But he believed some of the balance problems could be from the neck.


Right now I am 100% better. Can turn my head, no numbness and my balance has greatly improved. Still have appointment with Neurologist just in case!









Neck and Shoulder Pain


I have been dealing with neck and right shoulder pain for a long time, about 4 yeears; but when I came the last 4 or 5 weeks was worsening. It was affecting my sleeping, my ability to lift, work out and play basketball. As a student it was also aggravating and causing problems.


I had a MRI, treatment with cortisone shots, electro therapy, massage therapy and physical therapy, but it only helped temporarily.


After treatment with Chiropractic and relieving the nerve pressure, I no longer experience numbness and tingling in my right hand nor do I have pain in my neck or shoulder anymore!


It takes time but given the time, Dr. Parson can make your quality of life much better!


When you leave, you will leave with much better health than when you came in!









Tension Headaches and Neck Pain and Hands Hurting


When I came in, my hands were hurting and weak. This had been ongoing for about 6 or 7 years. I was having trouble with school work and writing. Not to mention I had headaches that last about an hour many times in a day.


It hurt when I sat and had trouble reading.


The medical doctors tried medications but that was not working. I was diagnosed with tension headaches.


Since under Chiropractic, my pain in my neck and hands is not really a problem anymore especially doing school work.


My headaches just come every now and then, but under control!


J. T.







Neck and Upper Back Pain


For many years, I have had ongoing neck and upper back discomfort because of curvature in my neck. I have been trying to get healthier and this one piece of the puzzle, my spine.


I had been here before, so I came back to try and get it fixed. I really didn’t try anything else.


Since treatment I have noticed more mobility, improved muscle tone, overall strength and health in my neck and upper back region.


Overall feeling much better. Also, due to the correction and rehab of the neck and upper/mid back, there has been an improvement in mental health.









Neck Pain, Lower Back Pain and Poor Posture


I have lived with neck pain, lower back pain, and poor posture since childhood. When I moved here in 2009 I investigated other Chiropractors, but I was unable to find someone who took as much time looking at my condition as Dr. Parson has.


Since I started working with Dr. Parson in 2013, I felt WORLDS better.


My neck and lower back pain are gone!


I have now taken up jogging, a hobby I never thought I would enjoy, or for that matter, even consider. We are also working to improve the curvature in my neck, which we saw as a major problem.


I have been to a few different Chiropractors in the last 6 years. I am so glad I found this practice because not only is Dr. Parson interested in good maintenance care, but he is committed to correct the problem first!









Garcia, Kali S. “Why Proper Posture Is Essential for Your Health.” Advanced Chiropractic Associates, PLLC, 2 July 2018, www.knoxchiropractic.com/blog/54815-why-proper-posture-is-essential-for-your-health.


Huizen, Jennifer. “Upper Crossed Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms, and Exercises.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 11 Aug. 2017, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318897.php


“What Is Upper Crossed Syndrome and How Chiropractic Can Help.” Sooley Chiropractic Health Center, 11 June 2013, sooleychiropractic.com/what-is-upper-crossed-syndrome-and-how-chiropractic-can-help/.



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