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Serratus Posterior Superior Muscle: Breathing Difficulty

Pain patterns of the serratus posterior superior

Pain under the shoulder blade, pain in the elbow point and pain in the wrist extending down into the little finger can indicate serratus posterior superior muscle dysfunction.

  • Deep aching under the shoulder blade
  • Pain in the low point of the elbow
  • Pain in the wrist and hand extending into the little finger
  • Pain persists even at rest
  • Pain is occasionally felt in the chest muscles

Where is the serratus posterior superior muscle?

The serratus posterior superior muscle connects the bottom neck vertebrae (C7)  and the top upper back vertebrae (T1, T2, T3) to the 2nd – 5th ribs.

What movements does the serratus posterior superior muscle control?

  • Forced inspiration (breathing in sharply as when gasping or breathing hard)
  • Raises the 2nd -5th ribs to assists inhalation

Activities that cause serratus posterior superior pain and symptoms:

  • Labored breathing (asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, pneumonia)
  • Gasping for air during sports activities
  • Hyperventilation
  • Rounded Shoulder Posture

Interesting facts about the serratus posterior superior:

Aching pain in the little finger is often a sign of trigger points in the serratus posterior superior muscle.

Clinical diagnoses to which the serratus posterior superior muscle symptoms may contribute:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Epicondylitis
  • Thoracic outlet syndrome
  • Deltoid tendonitis
  • Post injection soreness of the deltoid,
  • Shoulder pointer
  • Glenohumeral dislocation
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
  • Emphysema
  • Pleurisy
  • Scoliosis
  • Spondylitis
Serratus Posterior Superior Muscle

The serratus posterior superior muscle lifts the upper ribs so you can inhale.

Other muscles that should be considered and examined in conjunction with the serratus posterior superior:

Affected Organ Systems: Respiratory System

Satellite Trigger Points: Trapezius, Splenius,  Latissimus dorsi, Scalenes, Rhomboid Major and Minor, Iliocostalis, Longissimus Thoracis, and Multifidus

For Detailed Anatomy Information See: Serratus Posterior Superior Anatomy

Help with Serratus Posterior Superior Muscle Pain and Symptoms

Cold Gel Therapy for Serratus Injury, Pain and Breathing Difficulty

Biofreeze Pain Relieving Gel is a cold therapy gel that provides pain relieve for new injuries and is great as a maintenance pain treatment for those who have chronic breathing problems. Cold therapy should be used on instead of heat on new injuries to help reduce inflammation. Rub Biofreeze  on the across the upper back and chest if you are having rib, chest, upper back or arm pain because of coughing or labored breathing.

Biofreeze is recommended for recent serratus posterior superior muscle strain and injury

Warm Therapy Gel for Serratus Muscle Pain

Sombra Warm Therapy Pain Relieving Gel is a pain relieving gel that I use both personally and in my massage therapy practice. Unlike other over the counter heating creams, it provides warmth without burning heat.  Applying Sombra to the upper back, chest and arm area can help relax muscle spasms caused by the serratus posterior superior muscle. I recommend Sombra for chronic pain and chronically sore tight muscles.

Sombra Warm Therapy Gel provides serratus posterior superior pain relief.

Breathing Correctly Can Help With Serratus Muscle Pain

Improper or irregular breathing is one of the main contributors to serratus muscles dysfunction.  Learn To Breathe is a DVD by internationally renowned yoga instructor Max Strom that walks you through several breathing exercises that will help you improve your quality of breathing. The exercises are especially beneficial for people who suffer with breathing problems such as asthma  emphysema  COPD and allergies.  I often recommend this dvd to friends and clients who have breathing problems. Yoga experience is not necessary.


Braces and Support for Rounded Shoulder Posture

Rounded shoulders and slumping upper body posture are often caused by shortened tight pectoralis muscles which over stretches upper back muscles causing sore and painful upper back muscles including the serratus posterior superior muscle. ShouldersBack Posture Support gently pulls your shoulders back helping you maintain straight correct posture while stretching and elongating the chest muscles.

I use this brace myself when I begin to feel twinges of pain in my shoulders and upper back. I have recommended it to family, friends and clients who have pain due to slumping upper body and rounded shoulder posture. If you have rounded shoulders, begin using the brace slowly for short periods of time. As your body adjusts, you can tighten the support and use it for longer time periods. This brace is not a rigid support, you can still move comfortably and freely, it does not forcibly hold your shoulders down and back.


Self Treatment of Serratus Posterior Superior Pain

Tightness and injury to the serratus muscles can cause a multitude of symptoms. If you are suffering from pain just under the shoulder blade, aching in the point of the elbow, pain, and numbness in the arm going down into the ring and little fingers,  then your pain is likely trigger points in one of the serratus muscles including the serratus posterior superior muscle. The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief will help you locate and treat these trigger points, relax the muscle, and relieve and eliminate your symptoms.  Not only will this book help with your serratus muscle pain, but it will also help with other muscle pain that you may be experiencing.

The Trigger Point Workbook can help you resolve muscle pain throughout your body.
The Theracane Massager is a self treatment massage tool for use on those hard to reach areas on the neck, shoulders, back, hips and legs. If you are considering buying the book The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook, you will need to buy the Theracane to use the treatment methods detailed in the book.

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