The Scalene Muscles: Trigger Point Pain
Where are the scalene muscles?
The Scalene muscles are a group of muscles consisting of the scalenus anterior, scalenus medius, scalenus posterior, and 30% of people have a fourth muscle, the scalene minimus. These muscles are located toward the side of the neck and attach the neck vertebrae to the 1st and 2nd ribs.
What movements do the scalene muscles control?
- Raises 1st and 2nd ribs during inhalation
- Side bends the neck, ear to shoulder motion
- Turns the head side to side
What pain and symptoms are associated with the scalene muscles?
Scalene muscle tightness and pain responds well to hot and cold treatments. The Huggaroo Neck Wrap treats the neck, top of the shoulder, and upper back. It can be chilled for injuries and muscle strains or warmed to ease stress and help muscles relax.
What Causes Trigger Points In the Scalenes?
The Craniocradle was developed to treat headaches and stiff necks. The cradle applies pressure to the muscles while providing gentle traction to the neck. Use for 5-10 minutes and feel a reduction in pain and stress. The cradle can also be used for treatment on other areas including the low back and hip area. Instructions are provided.
If you have rounded shoulder, forward head posture, or have a habit of slouching, correcting your posture will reduce your 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.
Does your pillow support your head and neck?
Sleeping without proper head and neck support will aggravate the scalene muscles as well as other neck and shoulder muscles. The Sweetnight Pillow has adjustable filling and is highly recommended for its neck support.
Scalene Muscles Trigger Point Treatment
If you are suffering from thoracic outlet syndrome, stinging burning pain and numbness down the arm, or any of the other symptoms of trigger points in the scalene muscles, consider Claire Davies The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief. Mr. Davies explains 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, how to find the trigger point and treat it. It takes time and practice to master finding trigger points, but once you learn you have a tool and method to help relieve muscle pain throughout the body. If you suffer from TOS and shoulder, arm, and hand pain I highly recommend this book. Relieving trigger points in the three scalene muscles have helped many people resolve TOS and their pain issues. This book is a must-have for anyone interested in finding the cause and treating muscle pain.
Biofreeze Pain Relieving Gel is an excellent pain-relieving gel and I recommend it for those who have sudden onset muscle pain or recent injuries. It is better than warm therapy gels and creams for recent injury muscle pain as it cools the area much like ice and does not promote swelling. Biofreeze is recommended for those who have had a recent neck injury or sudden onset pain. Rub Biofreeze into the upper back and shoulders, into the front, side, and back of the neck going up to the base of the skull and over behind the ears. Highly recommended for early treatment of whiplash.
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. It can help reduce tightness and pain in the back of the neck and the base of the skull often caused by the sternocleidomastoid muscles. Applying Sombra to the back and sides of the neck, up behind the ears and along the base of the skull will help headache and whiplash pain caused by the sternocleidomastoid muscles.
How Long Before I Feel A Reduction In Pain?
Trigger points in the SCM muscle can be stubborn and take several days of treatments before you notice a positive change. It is imparative that you stay with the treatment program to rid the muscle(s) of trigger points. Consistent treatments several times a day for 1-2 minutes per treatment until the trigger point(s) can no longer be felt is necessary for successful treatment.
Interesting Facts About The Scalene Muscles
- In about 30% of the population, another scalene muscle, the scalenus minimus is found. The scalenus minimus is often only found on one side of those who have this ‘extra’ muscle.
- The scalene muscles are seldom painful, yet refer pain throughout the chest, upper back, shoulders, arms and neck.
- Symptoms caused by scalene muscle dysfunction is sometimes misdiagnosed as thoracic outlet syndrome or carpal tunnel syndrome.
Scalene muscle pain and symptoms can be similar to, contribute to, and be affected by these medical diagnoses:
- Thoracic outlet syndrome
- C4 C5 C6 C7 or C8 radiculopathy
- Subacromial tendinitis
- Bicipital tendinitis
- Subacromial tendinitis
- Lateral epicondylitis
- Tennis Elbow
- Spasmodic torticollis (Wryneck syndrome)
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Costoclavicular syndrome (Cervical rib syndrome)
Other muscles that should be considered and examined in conjunction with the scalenes:
Satellite trigger points associated with the scalene muscles:
- Pectoralis major
- Pectoralis minor
- Levator scapulae
- Splenius capitis
- Triceps Brachii
Doctors and physical therapists often recommend TENS to relax muscles and ease pain. The Belifu TENS Unit Muscle Stimulator is highly recommended and a great choice for treating neck, shoulder, and arm pain.