The deltoid muscle is the triangle-shaped muscle that covers the tip of the shoulder.

Trigger points (TrPs) in the deltoid cause pain around the shoulder and a feeling of weakness in the shoulder and the arm. Deltoid trigger points do not refer pain to other parts of the body. However, the deltoid is often affected by satellite trigger points found in the neck, chest, and upper back muscles. These trigger points need treatment to relieve the pain in the shoulder.

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    Where Is The Deltoid Muscle?

    Deltoid Muscle

    The deltoid muscle is the muscle that covers the tip shoulder. Though the muscle is often referred to as ‘the deltoids,’ it is one muscle made up of three sections, the anterior deltoid, the middle deltoid, and the posterior deltoid. It connects the point of the shoulder (acromion), shoulder blade (scapula), and the collarbone (clavicle) to the upper arm (humerus).

    What Movements Does It Control?

    • Raises the arm to the front of the body (anterior deltoid)
    • Raises the arm out to the side of the body (anterior deltoid)
    • Twists arm in toward the body
    • Moves arm across the front of the body (anterior deltoid)
    • Brings arm down to the body from overhead position (posterior deltoid)
    • Pulls arm behind the body (posterior deltoid)
    • Twists arm away from the body (posterior deltoid)

    Looking for detailed muscle anatomy? The Deltoid Anatomy Page has origin, insertion, innervation, and blood supply information. It also lists agonists and antagonists for each muscle action.


    Deltoid Muscle Trigger Points Symptoms:

    Deltoid Muscle Referred Pain

    TrPs in the muscle cause pain where the trigger point is located and the immediate area around the TrP. Deltoid trigger point pain occurs when you move your arm, but there is usually no pain when your arm is at rest and still. If your shoulder aches when you are not moving your arm, the pain is probably referred pain of trigger points in another muscle.

    The symptoms:

    • Pain over the tip of the shoulder going down the upper arm
    • Shoulder weakness and difficulty raising your arm
    • Pain in the shoulder area when lifting
    • Pain in the shoulder area when holding objects up and in front of the body
    • Pain decreases when arm and shoulder are at rest

    Sombra Warm Therapy Gel is recommended for relaxing muscles and relieving pain. It warms without the burning heat of other gels. An excellent choice for pain caused by trigger points, muscle/joint over-use and stiffness, and arthritis. (Not sold in stores)

    Biofreeze Professional Gel is recommended by medical professionals and trainers for the pain and symptoms of muscle strains. It provides excellent pain relief and may help reduce inflammation caused by a strain.

    What Causes Deltoid Trigger Points To Develop?

    The deltoid muscle is involved in most movements of the shoulder and upper arm. Sports, occupations, and hobbies that require swinging motions of the arm and holding the arms overhead for extended amounts of time overtax the muscle. Holding the elbows out away from the body and constant lifting is also problematic for the deltoid.

    Some examples:

    • Swimming
    • Skiing
    • Weight-lifting
    • Throwing a ball; baseball, softball, football
    • Holding heavy tools up
    • Picking up and carrying children
    • Using a keyboard not set at an ergonomic height
    • Injections in the arm

    TWD Recommends

    If you have rounded shoulder, forward head posture, or a habit of slouching, correcting your posture will reduce muscle pain. The Truweo Posture Corrector is adjustable and comfortable. It gently pulls your shoulders back, which helps retrain muscle memory to maintain proper posture. Many people notice an immediate reduction of pain and tension. Start slowly, wearing the brace for short periods throughout the day, gradually increasing the time-worn.

    How To Avoid Development of Trigger Points In The Deltoid Muscle

    • If you are an athlete or enjoy playing sports, be aware of your conditioning and don’t overdo it. Swimmers, skiers, weight-lifters, and sports that require repetitive throwing of a ball will tax the deltoid muscle. When you start feeling muscle fatigue set in, take a break or stop.
    • Exercises that require swinging, pushing, and pulling with the shoulders and arms can cause problems for the deltoid. Again, be aware of your conditioning and don’t overdo it.
    • If your job requires using heavy tools, keeping your arms stretched out in front of the body or overhead, take frequent short breaks. Do some simple stretches for the chest and upper back muscles that will also help the deltoid.
    • Typing can be a huge stressor for the deltoid muscle. Keep your elbows tucked in close to your body, and make sure your keyboard is at elbow height. Use a chair with supportive armrests.
    • Repeatedly picking up heavy items is hard on the delts and other shoulder and chest muscles. Use tools such as a hand dolly when you can.
    • If you have an injection in the arm, wait a few days until the initial soreness has lessened, and then check the muscle for trigger points.

    TWD Recommends

    If you are an athlete who participates in sports or has a job that stresses the shoulder muscles, you should consider having a cold therapy wrap on hand for treatments when you feel soreness and pain. This will help decrease inflammation in the muscles and around the shoulder joint and may prevent overuse injury or other damaging injuries to your shoulder.

    Deltoid Muscle Trigger Point Treatment

    The deltoid muscle is easy to treat. You can learn how to self-treat the deltoid using The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook. The workbook is an excellent resource to learn about TrPs, how to find them in the muscle, and treat them. The book is recommended to anyone interested in learning about muscle pain trigger points.

    Note: If you buy the workbook for self-treatment of the deltoid, you will need a small round ball to do the treatment. These massage balls are the right size and hardness for TrP treatment.

    Another option is to find a massage therapist, physical therapist, or chiropractor trained in trigger point therapy. They will be able to give you the initial treatment and show you how to self-treat the muscle.

    TWD Recommends

    Doctors and physical therapists often recommend TENS to relax muscles and ease the pain. The Belifu TENS Unit Muscle Stimulator is an excellent choice for treating shoulder, arm, and upper back pain.

    How Long Before I Feel A Reduction In Pain?

    Most people notice a reduction in pain within a few treatments. TrPs respond best to several treatments of 1-2 minutes per trigger point spread throughout the day. For a successful outcome, continue treatments until the TrP is deactivated and no longer felt when palpated and not producing any pain or symptoms.

    Interesting facts:

    • Shoulder pain caused by trigger points in the deltoid muscle will subside when resting. If the shoulder pain is continuous even at rest, chances are the pain is caused by another muscle in the neck, shoulder, upper back, and chest.
    • If diagnosed with bursitis of the shoulder and treatment is not reducing pain, it could be trigger points in the deltoid muscle.

    Deltoid muscle pain and symptoms can be similar to, contribute to, and be affected by these medical diagnoses:

    • Rotator cuff injury
    • Bicipital tendinitis
    • Adhesive capsulitis
    • Frozen shoulder
    • Shoulder point
    • C5 C6 radiculopathy
    • Subacromial/Subdeltoid bursitis
    • Arthritis of the Glenohumeral joint
    • Post-injection soreness


    Other muscles that should be considered and examined:

    Satellite trigger points associated with the deltoid muscle:

    Trigger points in the deltoid muscle will cause TrPs to develop in other muscles. These are known as satellite trigger points. Many of these muscles will contribute to the development of TrPs in the deltoids. Checking these muscles should be part of your treatment plan:

    • Pectoralis major
    • Pectoralis minor
    • Biceps brachii
    • Triceps brachii
    • Latissimus dorsi
    • Teres major
    • Infraspinatus
    • Supraspinatus

    Muscles with similar pain patterns

    Teres Major
    Teres Minor
    Supraspinatus Muscle
    Infraspinatus Muscle