The supraspinatus muscle is one of the muscles that makes up your rotator cuff. It attaches from the scapula to the humerus. It functions mainly to laterally rotate the arm as well as stabilize the shoulder joint. It also assists in abduction of the arm. This muscle can often harbour stubborn trigger points. These points refer pain into the shoulder, down the arm, into the elbow, and even into the forearm if irritated enough. These points can be effectively treated with trigger point massage therapy.
Trigger points are knots of contracted muscle or connective tissue that form as a result of overload stress. Once formed these points will produce pain, refered pain, weakness, and stiffness. Trigger points can also mimic other conditions such as Carple tunnel syndrome and sciatica. Trigger points will on go away on their own, they must be manually released.
Myofascial pain syndrome (trigger points) and fibromyalgia are often confused to be the same condition and while there is a lot of interrelatedness between the two they are not quite identical. The clinical definition of a trigger point is “a hyper irritable spot associated within a taut band of skeletal muscle that is painful on compression or muscle contraction, and usually responds with a referred pain pattern distant from the spot”. Trigger points form from an overload trauma to the muscle tissue. This is contrasted with fibromyalgia which is defined as “a medical condition characterized by chronic widespread pain and a heightened pain response to pressure. Other symptoms include tiredness to a degree that normal activities are affected, sleep problems and troubles with memory. Some people also report restless leg syndrome, bowel and bladder problems, numbness and tingling and sensitivity to noise, lights and temperature. It is also associated with depression, anxiety, and post traumatic stress disorder”. Fibromyalgia will also present with localized tender points which are often mistaken for trigger points. Where these two conditions become somewhat interrelated is via the nervous system. Fibromyalgia patients suffer from a super-sensitization of the nervous system causing hyperirritability and pain. Myofascial trigger points can be caused by,or be the cause of, super sensitization. An active trigger point will irritate the sensory nerves around it eventually leading to super-sensitization. Trigger points have also been showed to form of become active due to super-sensitization. Both of these conditions can perpetuate the other, leading to layers of pain and symptoms. This being the case, trigger point therapy can have a very positive effect on decreasing the severity of pain and symptoms in patients suffering from fibromyalgia.
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. Treatment is aimed at reducing and eliminating symptoms through the use of Chiropractic adjustments, soft tissue release, acupuncture and trigger point therapy.