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March 16th, 2017

The Trapezius : Muscle of the Month

by Kristin Stromberg, ATC

The trapezius is one of the major muscles of the back and is responsible for moving, rotating, and stabilizing the scapula (shoulder blade) and extending the head at the neck. It is a wide, flat, superficial muscle that covers most of the upper back and the posterior of the neck. Like most other muscles, there are two trapezius muscles – a left and a right trapezius – that are symmetrical and meet at the vertebral column

The trapezius starts at the occipital bone and the spinous processes of the cervical and thoracic vertebrae. Then extends across the neck and back to insert via tendons on the clavicle, acromion, and spine of the scapula. The name trapezius is given to this muscle due to its roughly trapezoidal shape. The trapezius can be divided into three bands of muscle fibers that have distinct structures and functions within the muscle:

Upper Trapezius, Middle Trapezius and Lower Trapezius

 Upper Trapezius

This portion helps with elevating (shrugging) the scapula or by bracing the shoulder when weight is carried; ie purses, grocery bags, backpacks, laptop bags. The action of this muscle also helps to extend the neck. Symptoms of having issues with the upper trapezius muscle are; headaches, facial/temple/jaw pain, pain behind the eye, dizziness, stiffness and limited range of motion

Middle Trapezius

These muscle fibers help to retract and adduct the scapula by pulling the shoulder blade closer to the spine. Symptoms can be mid back pain, headaches at the base of the sku
ll, a “burning” sensation that is close to the spine, and pain referring to the shoulder

Lower Trapezius

The inferior fibers depress the scapula by pulling it closer to the lower part of the thoracic vertebrae. To rotate the scapula, the lower and upper fibers work together to  rotate the shoulder blade upward. All three sections help to stabilize the shoulder blade to prevent irrelevant movement. Symptoms can be mid-back, neck, and/or upper shoulder region pain, possibly referral pain on the back of the shoulder blade, down the inside of the arm, and into the ring and little fingers, a deep ache and tenderness over the top of the shoulder

 

Causes of Trapezius Symptoms

  • a purse or daypack that is too heavy and on just one shoulder
  • fatigue
  • tensing your shoulders
  • cradling a phone between your ear and shoulder
  • a chair without armrests, or the armrests are too high
  • typing with a keyboard too high
  • sleeping on your front or back with your head rotated to the side for a long period
  • sitting without a firm back support (sitting slumped)
  • Backpacking, bike riding
  • any profession or activity that requires you to bend over for extended periods
  • large breasts and not wearing a supportive bra
  • whiplash (a car accident, falling on your head, or any sudden jerk of the head)
  • head-forward posture
  • turning your head to one side for long periods to have a conversation
  • tight pectoralis major muscles

 

Treatment

Treatment to help reduce the pain in any of these three sections of the trapezius is thru physical therapy to increase range of motion and to help strengthen the neck. Also thru chiropractic care to make sure there are no subluxations and that the body is in proper alignment. Massage therapy will help relax the muscles from spasming and also using Low Level Light Therapy (Cold Laser) to reduce any inflammation that is being caused in the body.

If you are not sure if you are experiencing any of these symptoms mentioned above and is not sure what to do we are offering a free consultation with one of our doctors to see if we can help. Please call the office at 847-362-4476 so we can help you to start feeling better today!

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