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.
The subscapularis muscle is one of the rotator cuff muscles. It is located on the inside of the scapula, and can be difficult to access. This muscle functions to internally rotate the arm as well as to adduct the shoulder. It is also a stabilizer of the shoulder joint. When this muscle is overloaded or injured trigger points can form. These points will refer pain into the back of the shoulder and down the inside of the arm to the wrist. Trigger points in the subscapularis are often associated with a frozen shoulder.
The triceps muscle is the main extensor of the elbow. It is the muscle in the back part of the arm and travels from the shoulder to the elbow. Trigger points in this muscle will cause pain when trying to straighten the elbow. Tricep trigger points refer pain into both the inside and outside of the elbow and are thus a common cause of both tennis and golfers elbow.
The biceps brachii is the most well-known of the arm due to its prominence. It is the muscle we think of when we imagine someone with ‘big arms.’ Its chief role is elbow flexion, and, while it is not the only elbow flexor, its role makes it prone to
overload problems which can lead to trigger points. When trigger points form they will produce pain felt in the elbow arm and up into the front of the shoulder. Shoulder pain is usually felt as superficial as opposed to deep in the joint.
The trapezius muscle is a large diamond shaped muscle in your upper and middle back and neck. It it responsible for both shoulder and neck movements. Trigger points in the upper portion of this muscle are the most common points to develop in the body. These trigger points most often occur due to poor posture, such as a slumped sitting posture. Trigger points in the upper portion of the traps will cause pain to refer into the neck, head, and into the temple. These points are one of the most common causes of headaches.
The scalene muscles are located in your neck. They function to stabilize the cervical spine against lateral movement and elevate the first and second rib to assist inspiration. These muscles are often overloaded and develop trigger points from pulling, lifting, and tugging movements, prolonged cough due to illness, shallow breathing mechanics, and poor neck posture. Trigger points in these muscles can refer in two finger-like projections into the chest, other common patterns are into the shoulder, scapula and down the lateral arm, into the thumb and index finger. The scalene can impinge on the brachial plexus causing nerve pain or numbness down the arm. This is called thoracic outlet syndrome.