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.
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.
The Trapezius muscle is a large diamond shaped muscle located in the back and neck. It is responsible for for a number of shoulder and neck movements and helps maintain proper posture. This muscle is probably the most common muscle that I work on in the clinic. It is frequently strained and develops trigger points easily. The trigger points in the upper portion of this muscle are the most common to be found in the body. Trigger points will refer pain into the upper back, neck, shoulder, and even into the head and temple causing headaches. Chronic trigger points in this muscle are also a frequent cause of a stiff neck.
Achy burning pain felt along the length of the shoulder blade is very common these days. The Rhomboids are the muscles that retract the shoulder blade and help maintain good posture by keeping you shoulders from rounding forward. These muscles are often overworked and become chronically strained. As a result trigger points can form in the muscles. It’s these points that are responsible for the persistent achy restless pain felt along the shoulders. Trigger points are stubborn and won’t go away on there own. A theraputic approach like trigger point massage is required to treat the issue.
The Teres major muscle is located at the back of the armpit. It originates on the posterior aspect of the inferior angle of the scapula, and inserts and inserts on the medial lip of the intertubercular sulcus of the humerus. It’s main function is to assist adduction, internal rotation, and extension of the arm. This muscle only becomes active when there is resistance added to these movements. Trigger point pain from this muscle will cause pain to be felt deep into the posterior shoulder and down the back of the arm.
The Teres minor muscle is on of the rotator cuff muscles. It originates on the lateral border of the scapula, and inserts on the inferior facet of the greater tubercle of the humerus. This muscle assists with external rotation of the humerus as well as shoulder stability. This muscle is often damaged with a shoulder injury. Trigger points will refer into the posterior deltoid and down the back of the arm.
The Subclavius muscle is a small muscle on the underside of the clavicle. It originates on the first rib and it’s cartilage, and inserts on the inferior clavicle. It’s main function is to assist in protraction of the shoulder. This muscle is often shortened and tight from poor rounded shoulder posture. When trigger points form in this muscle they can refer pain into the anterior shoulder and down the radial part of the arm. Pain can also be referred into the thumb and first two fingers.
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.
A very common muscle to become overloaded and damaged, and thus develop trigger points, is the pectoralis major muscle. This is the muscle that makes up the chest. It’s main functions are adduction and internal rotation at the shoulder. Poor rounded shoulder posture is a common cause of pec tightness and trigger points. trigger points in this muscle will produce pain felt into the front of the shoulder, the chest, and down the medial arm. If these symptoms occur in the left pec it can mimick heart pain. In women, these points can be a cause of breast pain and nipple hypersensitivity.