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Rotator Cuff Subscapularis Muscle: Frozen Shoulder Pain

Severe deep pain in the back of the shoulder along with an aching band of pain in the back of the wrist are definite signs of subscapularis muscle dysfunction.

What are the pain and symptoms associated with the subscapularis muscle?

  • Severe pain deep in the back of the shoulder
  • Pain in the back of the upper arm
  • Pain over the shoulder blade area
  • Pain can extend down the back of the arm
  • Persistent aching in the wrist with extreme tenderness in the back of the wrist
  • Occasionally an extremely tender spot on the front of the shoulder

Where is the subscapularis muscle?

The subscapularis lines the underside of the shoulder blade (scaupla) and connects to the upper arm (humerus).  It is one of four of the rotator cuff muscles.

What movements does the subscapularis muscle control?

  • Twists the arm in toward the body
  • Assists in lifting the arm to the side away from the body

Activities that cause subscapularis pain and symptoms:

  • Pitching a baseball
  • Tennis
  • Swimming
  • Tossing heavy objects
  • Playing the violin, guitar, banjo
  • Falling and landing on your side
  • Sleeping on one side
  • Immobilization of the arm for long periods (casted arm)


Interesting facts about the infraspinatus muscle:

  • The subscapularis is the prime contributor to frozen shoulder
  • The subscapularis is likely the most problematic muscles of ball playing athletes.  Trigger points in the subscap can make it impossible to throw or swing at a ball.
  • Another sign of subscapularis problems is difficulty putting on shirts and coats. To bring the arm back to put it in a sleeve is extremely painful and difficult.
  • Pain in the back of the arm and shoulder blade area along with a persistent ache in the back of the wrist is nearly always signs of subscapularis problems
Subscapularis Origin, Insertion, Action, Innervation

You use the subscapularis muscle to twist your arm in toward your body.

Clinical diagnoses to which the subscapularis muscle symptoms may contribute:

  • Adhesive capsulitis
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Rotator cuff tear
  • Rotator cuff tendinitis
  • Shoulder pointer
  • Thoracic outlet syndrome
  • Impingement syndrome
  • Dislocation of the glenohumeral joint
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Wrist Sprain / Strain

Other muscles that should be considered and examined in conjunction with the subscapularis:

Satellite trigger points associated with the subscapularis muscle:

  • Pectoralis Major
  • Teres Major
  • Latissimus Dorsi
  • Triceps Brachii
  • Deltoid

For detailed anatomy information:  
Subscapularis Muscle Anatomy

Help with Subscapularis Muscle and Rotator Cuff Pain and Symptoms

Cold Gel Therapy for Shoulder Rotator Cuff 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. Biofreeze should be kept on hand for those who stress shoulder and rotator cuff muscles with job or hobby related activities.

Ice Wrap For Shoulder Injury, Subscapularis Rotator Cuff Muscles

The Pro-Ice Shoulder and Elbow Cold Therapy Wrap is great for shoulder injuries involving the rotator cuff muscles. The wrap not only provides cold therapy for the shoulder, but it also extends down the arm providing relieve for upper arm and elbow pain. This  should be in the freezer of every ball player for quick treatment of  overuse injuries and preventative maintenance.

Warm Gel Therapy For Subscapularis Muscle Shoulder Pain

Sombra Warm Therapy Pain Relieving Gel is a warming gel that I use every day not only on myself but also on clients. It provides warmth without burning and is better at relieving pain than other over the counter pain creams. For arthritic or chronic shoulder pain Sombra can be applied several times a day for continuous pain relief. To relieve subscapularis pain apply Sombra around the shoulder, upper arm and upper chest into the front and back edges of the arm pit.

Hot and Cold Shoulder Therapy Wrap

Elasto-Gel Hot Cold Wrap works well for those who need a wrap that provides both heat and cold therapy. This is a great wrap for people suffering from shoulder arthritis pain. Heat and cold can both help relieve symptoms of biceps frozen shoulder and rotator cuff muscle pain. The wrap is gel which allows it to mold to the chest, shoulder, and upper arm comfortably.

Available in two sizes: Small Hot Cold Shoulder Wrap and Large / XLarge Hot Cold Shoulder Wrap

Self Treatment for Subscapularis Muscle and Frozen Shoulder

The Frozen Shoulder Workbook: Trigger Point Therapy for Overcoming Pain and Regaining Range of Motion is a book to consider if you are suffering from frozen shoulder or unresolved shoulder pain. Author Claire Davies bout with frozen shoulder lead him to research trigger point therapy and use the methodology to resolve his pain and regain the range of motion in his shoulder and arm. In his book Davies explains adhesive capsulitis (frozen shoulder) in layman's language and gives step by step self-treatment methods as well as stretching and strengthening exercises. Many people have used the treatment methods to overcome frozen shoulder. For others, it is a tool to help them manage their pain and maintain movement. There are a few individuals for which the methods do not help, however even many of these people recommend the book for a better understanding of the condition and to help formulate questions and discussion with medical professionals.

Easily Treat Hard  To Reach Areas Of The 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 buying the book The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook, you will need to consider buying the Theracane to use the treatment methods for the other rotator cuff muscles detailed in the book.