The levator scapulae muscle is a thin strap like muscle in your neck. It helps to shrug the shoulders and to side flex the neck. This muscle often becomes over worked when the head is tilted forward, or the shoulders are in an elevated position for prolonged periods of time. When strained trigger points develop. These points will refer pain into the neck and shoulder blade area. Trigger points in the levator scapulae are a main cause of a stiff neck.
One of the most common things I treat in my practice is myofascial trigger points in the neck muscles. More often than not these points have been caused to develop due to poor neck and shoulder posture. You know the posture, head forward, shoulders rounded, spine curved. Anyone that has had to sit in front of a computer all day, or in car for a long period of time, or spends a lot of time on their phone has experienced this type of posture. The muscles that are responsible for holding your neck up, and your shoulders back, become fatigued over time causing a chronic overload stress. When this happens trigger points can be formed in the muscle tissue. Trigger points are areas of the muscle that have been jammed in the “on” position. They are Almost like a micro cramp within the muscle. These points are hyper sensitive and cause pain, referred pain, stiffness, and weakness among other symptoms. Trigger points in the neck muscles not only cause neck pain, but also refer pain into the head and face, mimicking headache and migraine type pain.
One of the most common forms of pain I see in my practice is neck and shoulder pain. Many people have jobs that require the muscles of the neck and upper back to work overtime to keep proper neck posture. Sitting in front of a computer all day or being stuck in a car or truck for example will eventually cause these muscles to become strained and develop trigger points. These trigger points will then cause pain, referred pain, stiffness and weakness. Neck and upper back trigger points will refer pain into the neck and head.
Neck pain and stiffness are very common. Most of us have, at one point or another experienced it. Neck pain can range from being an annoyance to being excruciating and debilitating. Lots of issues can cause neck pain, but one of the most common causes are myofascial trigger points. Trigger points from in muscles tissue from overload stress. This stress causes muscle fibers in a muscle to become contracted into a knot. These knots will produce pain, referred pain, stiffness and weakness among other symptoms. Trigger points in the levator scapulae and the trapezius muscles are a leading cause of neck pain and stiffness.
Trigger points are the clinical name for contracted muscle knots. These knots are the result of an overload stress placed on the muscle tissue. This overload can be from both acute or chronic stresses. When this happens some of the muscle fibers get locked together in a maximally contracted spasm that self perpetuates. These trigger points then cause symptoms such as pain, referred pain, stiffness, and weakness. They are one of the most common source of pain in the human body, and can even mimick symptoms of other conditions. Trigger points don’t go away on their own, they also can’t be treated with stretching, rest or rehabilitation exercises. A direct intervention targeted directly at the point itself such as trigger point massage therapy is the only way to release a trigger point.
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One of the most common causes of neck pain and headaches that I see in the clinic is poor neck posture. This posture presents itself as a neck forward head up posture. The neck is usually rounded forward and down but the head has to be tilted up in order to see what’s in front of you. This posture will cause all types of imbalances with a combination of strained and contracted muscles. This can lead to not only a stiff achy neck, but also headache pain as well. Trigger points often develop in muscles subjected to this type of chronic strain. These points will cause pain, refered pain, stiffness, and weakness. These points will also mimick numerous other symptoms. Trigger points are difficult to deal with as rest and stretching usually aren’t enough to treat them. Trigger point massage therapy is one of the proven methods of treating trigger points.