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Teres Minor Rotator Cuff Muscle: Upper Arm Pain Numb Tingling In Fingers

The teres minor muscle is found in the back of the shoulder. Trigger points (TrPs) in the teres minor will cause pain in a specific area in the back of the lower shoulder where the muscle connects to the upper arm. You may also experience tingling in the ring and little fingers.

Contents of Article

    Where Is The Teres Minor Muscle?

    Teres Minor Anatomy Showing The Location of Trigger Point

    The teres minor attaches near the bottom of the shoulder blade (scapula) and connects to the upper arm (humerus).

    What Movements Does It Control?

    • Twists the arm away from the body (lateral rotation)
    • Assists in moving the raised arm in toward the body (adduction)
    • Assists in stabilizing the shoulder joint

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


    Teres Minor Muscles Trigger Points Symptoms:

    Teres Minor Referred Pain Pattern

    Teres minor trigger point pain occurs in a specific area in the back of the shoulder, where the muscle attaches to the upper arm bone (humerus).

    The muscle will occasionally cause tingling and numbing in the ring and little fingers. These sensations do not involve the arm or pain. If you have pain in the back of the shoulder along with pain going down the arm and into the fingers, you should examine the pectoralis minorpectoralis major, and the latissimus dorsi.

    The symptoms:

    • Pain toward the outside of the back of the upper shoulder
    • Numbness or tingling without pain or aches in the fourth and fifth fingers

    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)

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

    What Causes Teres Minor Trigger Points To Develop?

    The teres minor muscle is adversely affected by holding the arms overhead, holding the arms out in front of the body, and twisting motions of the arm. Baseball pitchers and football quarterbacks often experience problems due to the throwing motion. Rowers and kayakers develop pain due to the pulling force of rowing through the water.

    Swinging a sledgehammer, using an ax to chop wood, and other heavy tools requiring repetitive swinging motion will cause TrPs to develop.

    Desk work, assembly line work, and other activities in which you are holding your arms up and in front of the body are also problematic for the teres minor and other shoulder muscles.

    Other activities that will contribute to trigger points are jobs and activities that require repetitive lifting. Holding the arms overhead like you do when painting a ceiling will also cause trigger points in the teres minor as well as other shoulders, neck, and upper back muscles.

    Some Examples:

    • Bringing the arm back with force
      • Pitching a baseball
      • Rowing, Kayaking
      • Swinging a sledgehammer
    • Holding arms above head for extended periods
    • Holding arms out in front of the body for extended periods
    • Bracing your arms in front of the body to avoid a fall or overhead impact (something falling from above)

    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 slowly increasing the time-worn.

    How To Avoid Development of Trigger Points In The Teres Minor

    • If you play sports that stress the shoulder muscles, do a proper upper body warm-up before playing. When your muscles start to fatigue, take a break or stop. If you play and practice regularly, consider getting a cold wrap for treatment after you are finished.
    • If you have a job or do other activities that require holding the arms up for long periods, take frequent breaks. Do upper body stretches to relieve the stress on the muscles. Consider using tools such as a ladder or long handle tools that may help you work with lowered arms.
    • Instead of carrying a heavy briefcase, use a rolling briefcase. The same goes for suitcases while traveling.
    • Working at a desk, on an assembly line, or other activities that require working with your arms out in front of the body is stressful for all the shoulder and upper back muscles. If you work at a desk, get a chair that will support your arms while you work. For other work and other activities, take breaks and stretch when possible. If you can, keep your elbows tucked into the body while you work to relieve some wear and tear on your shoulders, elbows, and arms.

    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.

    Teres Minor Trigger Point Treatment

    The teres minor muscle is easy to treat once you know the technique. If you are interested in learning how to treat trigger points, The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook is an excellent resource to learn the treatment methods. The book has diagrams that show the location of the trigger point and diagrams that show you the treatment method. It takes time and practice to learn, but once you know, you will be able to identify and treat trigger points throughout the body.

    Because of the location of the teres minor muscle, you will need a tool to self-treat. If balance and mobility are not an issue, you can use massage balls between your shoulder and a wall to apply pressure and massage the muscle.

    If mobility or balance is a concern, then you can use the TheraCane Massage Tool. The cane allows you to reach and treat the muscle while standing or sitting.

    Another option is to find a massage therapist, physical therapist, or chiropractor with specific training in trigger point therapy. A trained professional can find and show you how to treat specific TrPs.

    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?

    Trigger points in the teres minor resolve fairly quickly. Most notice a reduction in pain after just 1-3 treatments. However, it is important to treat the muscle until the TrPs are deactivated and no longer produce pain or symptoms. Consistency is the key when treating TrPs. Teres minor trigger points generally respond best to two or three treatments of 1-2 minutes per treatment spread throughout the day.

    Interesting facts:

    • It is one of four rotator cuff muscles
    • The teres minor occasionally fuses with the infraspinatus muscle.

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

    • Adhesive capsulitis
    • Frozen shoulder
    • Rotator cuff tear
    • Rotator cuff tendinitis
    • Subdeltoid bursitis
    • Dislocation of  glenohumeral joint
    • Shoulder pointer
    • Ulnar neuropathy
    • C6 C7 Radiculopathy
    • Charcot’s joint
    • Post  injection soreness


    Other muscles that should be considered and examined:

    Satellite trigger points associated with the teres minor muscles:

    Satellite trigger points are TrPs that develop in other muscles due to the stress caused by trigger points in the teres minor. To ensure complete treatment check and treat the following muscles:

    • Deltoid
    • Teres Major
    • Infraspinatus

    Muscles with similar pain patterns

    Teres Major
    Deltoid Muscle
    Triceps Brachii