Upper Crosse Syndrome (UCS) is caused by an imbalance in the flexor and extensor muscles of the chest and upper back. It can be seen clearly on X-ray imaging referred by your chiropractor, when looking from the side of the spine at the spinal curves.

Posture will often result in the upper back muscles becoming increasingly tense and tight due to the constant strain of having shoulders positioned anteriorly forward, and the thoracic curve will be increased on imaging. This will often cause the chest muscles to become shortened and the shoulder region to tighten and curve due to constantly incorrectly held posture. 

Risk Factors

Though those with a sedentary lifestyle are most at risk for the condition, it is not uncommon to find Upper Crossed Syndrome in athletes, particularly swimmers and weight lifters. 


Headaches, neck pain and pain in the jaw may point to a case of UCS.
The effects of this condition can harm performance, reducing range of movement and inhibiting the ability to breathe fully due to the reduction of space in the abdomen. ​​

Xray finding and symptoms

  • On x-ray you will see incorrect curvature in the cervical and thoracic spine. 
  • If not treated, the condition can deteriorate further causing eventual damage to the spine.          
  • This happens due to the continual pressure on the front of the vertebrae causing compression and leading to cervical kyphosis.​​​

Treatment and home care

neck shoulder stretches chirocure chiropractic clinic stkilda

Chiropractic treatment
The best treatment options involve a combination of exercise, physical therapy and chiropractic care.
First, a chiropractic adjustment can realign joints that have become misaligned due to tight muscles and bad posture. Proper chiropractic care will help increase range of movement while also allowing your body to relax tightened muscles and stretch shortened muscles.  

Home care and rehab exercises
Supportive at-home exercises will further the goal of strengthening weak muscles and stretching tight ones.
Two simple things you can do at regular intervals throughout the day are to tuck your chin back in toward your chest and pull your shoulders back, and hold the position for 30 seconds at a time. Stretching the tight muscles and strengthening the weak ones will help restore proper posture and ensure the condition does not return.

How is posture related?

ChiroCure Clinic Chiropractors aim to restore healthy posture, spinal alignment, proper movement and flexibility. When incorrect curvature is diagnosed on x-rays, it is important to understand why. You spine should only have a curve when looking at the spine from the side, not from the front or back.
Curvature in the spine from the side is normal and expected for shock absorption. When our spinal curves are incorrect or not as they should be, symptoms of pain can worsen. We take x-rays to diagnose and assess the curve of your spine, and determine the health of the vertebrae and discs. 
The following are the two moose common cause of incorrect spinal curves. The symptoms of each condition can vary from patient to patient, however the outcome, being degenerative change and bony change is very common. You can have both of the following syndromes, or just one in your spine.

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