Subclavius Referred Pain Pattern

Subclavius Muscle: Trigger Point Pain

The subclavius muscle is found just under the collarbone. Though it is small, it contributes to pain in a wide-ranging area. Pain is felt in the area around the collarbone (clavicle), shoulder, upper arm, forearm, thumb, and fingers. It can also contribute to tingling and numbness in the arm and hand.

Contents of Article


    Subclavius Muscle

    Where Is The Subclavius Muscle?

    The subclavius is a muscle that lies just below the collarbone. It connects the collarbone (clavicle) to the first rib.

    What Movements Does It Control?

    • Stabilizes the collarbone
    • Raises the first rib to aid with breathing

    If you need specific anatomical information, the Subclavius Anatomy page has origin, insertion, innervation, and blood supply information. It also lists agonists and antagonists for each muscle action.

    Subclavius Muscles Trigger Points Symptoms:

    Trigger points in the subclavius muscle not only contribute to pain around the in the front of the shoulder but also refer pain into the arm and hand.

    Symptoms include:

    • Pain below and around the collarbone
    • Pain in the upper arm
    • Sends pain down the forearm into the thumb, forefinger, and middle finger
    • A reliable indicator of subclavius muscle dysfunction is pain on the outside of the upper arm that skips over the elbow then extends into the forearm. Pain can also extend to the thumb, index, and middle finger while skipping over the wrist.
    • The muscle can tighten, restricting circulation to the arm and hand, which causes tingling and numbness in the arm and hand.

    What Causes Trigger Points To Develop In The Subclavius Muscle?

    • Broken collarbone (clavicle)
    • Working with your arms out in front of you (computer, driving)
    • Lifting heavy objects with your arms straight in front of your body
    • Keeping your shoulders raised (we often do this when we are stressed)
    • Carrying a heavy briefcase or purse
    • Sleeping on your side with your arm above your head

    TWD Recommends

    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. Also recommended for fractured and separated clavicle (collarbone) injuries.

    How To Avoid Development of Trigger Points In The Subclavius Muscle

    • Pay attention to your stress levels. When you are stressed or excited, make a conscious effort to keep your shoulders down and relaxed.
    • If you work at a desk, make sure that you’re not reaching up with your arms to work on your desktop. Your desktop should be elbow height or slightly lower.
    • When driving, do not grip the steering wheel at the top. Keep your hands in a neutral position (10 and 2 o’clock positions) and your seat close enough to the steering wheel so you don’t have to overreach to grip it.
    • When lifting, keep your elbows bent and close to the body.
    • If you sleep on your side, keep your shoulders in a neutral position. Do not sleep with your arm raised over your head.

    TWD Recommends

    Cureve Hot Cold Pack can be used for warm and cold treatments. It is recommended that you use cold packs for injuries, swelling, and after a TrP treatment. Use a warm treatment when the muscle is tight and needs to relax. The large Cureve is recommended as it covers a large area and can be used to treat many areas of the body.

    Subclavius Trigger Point Treatment

    If you are experiencing pain around the collarbone, have pain in the front of the arm, and the palm and fingers of the hand, you should check the subclavius muscle for trigger points. There are many massage therapists, physical therapists, and chiropractors with the specific training to show you how to find and self-treat the trigger point. Not all have training in trigger point therapy, so be sure to ask before making an appointment.

    Subclavius trigger points can be difficult for a beginner to TrP therapy to find and self-treat, but it you can do it! If you are interested in self-treating trigger points, TWD also recommends getting a copy of The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook. The book explains trigger points and provides symptoms and treatment techniques for muscles throughout the body. Diagrams show you where trigger points are located in each muscle as well as how to treat each trigger point.

    Recommended Products

    The subclavius and other muscles of the neck and shoulder can become sore and painful when you carry a satchel briefcase or purse, carry a backpack slung over one shoulder, or use a shoulder bag. Carrying even moderately heavy bags not only stresses the neck, shoulder, and upper back, it also throws the body off balance, which can lead to pain and stiffness in the lower back, hips, and knees.

    To help keep muscles and joints healthy and pain-free consider a wheeled briefcase for business or a backpack with wheels for school activities. A cross body messenger bag is another option that will distribute some of the bag’s weight across the body instead of pulling your arm and shoulder down. And for the ladies? How about a stylish cross body purse?

    How Long Before I Feel A Reduction In Pain?

    Most people notice a reduction of pain and symptoms after a few treatments. Trigger points respond best to several 1-2 minute treatments throughout the day. For the best results, be consistent with your treatments and continue treatment until the trigger point is deactivated (can no longer be felt).

    Interesting facts:

    • The subclavius helps to protect the nerve bundle and circulatory bundles that go to the arm when the collarbone is fractured.
    • The collarbone is the most frequently broken long bone in the human body.
    • If the collarbone has ever been fractured or dislocated, problems often arise in the subclavius muscle.
    • Dysfunctional symptoms of the subclavius muscle mimic the symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome.

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

    • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
    • Brachial Plexus Entrapment
    • Costoclavicular syndrome
    • Cervical rib syndrome
    • C5 or C6 radiculopathy
    • Adhesive Capsulitis
    • Frozen Shoulder
    • Rotator Cuff Injury
    • Dislocated or fractured collarbone
    • Separated shoulder


    Other muscles that should be considered and examined:

    Satellite trigger points associated with the subclavius muscles:

    If you find trigger points in the subclavius it is likely you will find trigger points in some or all of these muscles:

    • Deltoids
    • Teres Minor