- Headache in the temple area
- Pain in the jaw that travels down into the neck and over behind the ear
- Pain behind one eye
- Tension headache
- Contributes to dizziness
- Pain at the base of the skull
- Stiff neck
- Ache or burning sensation in the middle of the back
- Pain or tingling during raising or lowering the arms
Where is the trapezius muscle located?
The trapezius covers a large portion of the back of the neck, back of the shoulder and upper to mid back. It connects the skull, neck vertebra, upper and mid back vertebra to the shoulder blade and joint of the shoulder.
What movements does the trapezius muscle control?
- Pulls the shoulders back and the shoulder blades toward the spine
- Raises and lowers shoulders – shrugging your shoulders
- Lifts and lowers the arms to the front of the body
- Straightening and bending neck back
- Helps to tilt the head side to side
- Helps to turn head side to side
Activities that cause pain and symptoms in the trapezius:
- Lifting heavy objects
- Working with your arms out in front of you (computer, playing the piano, driving)
- Keeping your shoulders rolled forward or pulled up
- Carrying a heavy purse or backpack on one shoulder
- Large breasts
Interesting facts about the Trapezius Muscle:
The trapezius is arguably the most massaged muscle on the human body. When a friend massages your neck and shoulders it is the trapezius muscle that they are usually massaging.
Clinical diagnoses to which the trapezius muscle symptoms may contribute:
- Degenerative disc disease
- Tension headaches
- Eye strain
- Stingers or burners
- Sprain/Strain injury
- Shoulder pointer
- Shoulder separation
- Glenohumeral separation
- Adhesive capsulitis (Frozen shoulder)
- Spasmodic torticollis (Wryneck)
- Temporomandibular disorder (TMD)
- Thoracic outlet syndrome
- Concussion and Post Concussion Syndrome
Other muscles that should be considered and examined in conjunction with the trapezius:
Satellite Trigger Points: Temporalis, Masseter, Splenius Cervicis, Semispinalis, Levator Scapulae, Rhomboids, Pectoralis Major, Pectoralis Minor, Latissimus Dorsi, Supraspinatus
For detailed anatomy information: Trapezius Anatomy
Help with Trapezius Muscle Pain
Cold Therapy Gel For Trapezius Injury and Pain
Biofreeze Pain Relieving Gel is an excellent pain relieving gel that I use on clients who have sudden onset muscle pain or recent injuries. Biofreeze Cold Therapy gel works like ice and does not promote swelling. A recent study showed that Biofreeze decreased pain 2 times more than ice and the pain relief lasts 9 – 10 longer. If your pain is from a recent injury such as whiplash or strain from lifting and / or carrying heavy objects, I would recommend Biofreeze.
Recommended Cold and Heat Wrap for Neck and Shoulders
Elasto-Gel Cervical Collar can be used for heat or cold therapy to the neck, upper shoulder area. This wrap works with trapezius muscle induced head and neck pain because it comes up to the base of the skull and covers the back of the neck. Use cold therapy for a new injury or sudden onset pain. Use heat therapy for injuries over a week old and chronic pain from old injury and tight muscles. I recommend this because it conforms to the contours of your body and is well made to last for years.
Warm Therapy Gel For Trapezius Muscle Related Pain
Sombra Warm Therapy Pain Relieving Gel is a pain relieving gel that I use both personally and professionally in my massage therapy practice. Unlike other over the counter heating creams, it provides warmth without burning heat. Applying Sombra to the back of the neck, along the shoulders and upper back going down along the spine to the mid-back can help reduce pain and tightness caused by the trapezius muscle. I recommend Sombra for chronic pain and pain from arthritis.
Hot Cold Pack for Neck, Shoulder and Upper Back Pain
SofTouch Large Hot Cold Pack is a large pack that can be used for hot or cold treatment. The pack is large enough to cover the trapezius muscle from the neck to the middle back. To treat the trapezius, pull the pack up to the base of the skull and let it lie on the upper shoulders and back. The inside of the pack contains a clay-like substance that remains soft and pliable so you can mold the pack to your body. The outside of the pack is wrapped with soft suede like material that does not shock the skin when touched. My clients love this pack and it is now the only large size hot and cold pack that I use in my massage therapy practice.
Tools and Information For Self Treatment of Trapezius Muscle
I use and often recommend the Neck King Massage Tool For Neck and Back to my clients. The Neck King works on trigger points and pressure points to help relieve muscle tension and pain. The secret to using the Neck King is to follow the directions carefully and to slowly build up the time spent using the tool. For many first time users the tool is too hard to use comfortably. Folding a hand towel and laying it over the Neck King will help ease the discomfort. This tool has help me as well as many of my clients relieve headaches, sore stiff necks, and upper back strain.
Self Treatment for Trapezius Muscle Pain
Do you know that small "knots" and other dysfunction in the trapezius muscle can contribute to pain in the head, neck, and shoulder?
When I recommend trigger point tools to my clients I always recommend that they also purchase Claire Davies The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief. Mr. Davies explain the trigger point phenomenon and muscle pain in everyday language. But what makes this book worth its weight in gold are the individual muscle trigger point treatments that Davies has compiled. His diagrams and step by step instructions help you locate which muscles are contributing to your pain and how to find the trigger point for treatment This book is a must-have for anyone interested in finding the cause and treating muscle pain.