Can Upper Trap Pain Be Treated
Yes, upper trap pain can be treated and with great results. Even better, many times it can be treated conservatively without needing injections, pain medications, or surgeries. The key to treatment is to solve the root cause of your pain so you can get the best results and a long term
Some root causes of upper trap pain can be:
- Forward head posture
- Weak mid back and shoulder blade muscles
- Overload to the upper trap muscles
- Tight neck and mid back
If you have failed multiple treatment approaches already, the clinician missed the real root cause of your pain and was just chasing the symptoms. The pain or symptom is the effect, not the cause. What do I mean by this? For example, say your fire alarm goes off in your house. Its purpose is to protect you and make you aware something is wrong and that there is a fire in the house. The alarm is like your pain and the fire is the root cause. When the fire alarm goes off you dont run upstairs and just turn it off, right? You run through the house with the fire extinguisher, trying to find the room where the fire is at, to find out what caused it to go off, so you can put it out. Then once the fire is out, then the fire alarm can go off. Solve the root cause of your pain, and then the pain eventually goes away.
How Long Does It Take For Recovery
Recovery time for upper trap pain in the neck depends on multiple factors:
- The severity and chronicity of your pain
- Whether your pain is an easy or complex case
- If the root cause of your pain was solved or if it was missed
- How long you have been in pain for and when you need to be pain-free by
- Other therapies and treatments you have tried
- Which medical professional you saw prior to seeing us
- How active you are in trying to resolve your pain
- Which treatment approach is chosen and if it is proven to work for your pain
There are many factors that influence your recovery time and every patients recovery time is different. If you do nothing and dont pursue treatment, it could gradually get better on its own, you could continue to have the same pain persist, or it could continue to get worse. As stated earlier, most acute cases may or may not resolve in 4-8 weeks. If you get expert treatment that solves the root cause of your pain, some cases resolve in 1-3 weeks! Then you can get back to sports, exercise, and your favorite activities without flare-ups and recurrences. Some of our patients are pain-free in 1-3 visits and back to 100% in 2 weeks!
What Are Some Common Treatments For Trapezius Injuries
Depending on the location and severity of the injury, your provider may recommend:
- Acupuncture: Dry needling and acupuncture can relieve pain and tightness in the trapezius.
- Massage therapy: Massage can help you recover from or prevent a traps injury by increasing flexibility and relaxing tight muscles.
- Rest: Minor muscle strains and tears can heal with rest. You may need to avoid certain activities, such as bending, lifting your arms or shrugging your shoulders. Drink plenty of water to keep your muscles hydrated.
- Surgery: Severe muscle tears may need surgical repair. Your provider uses stitches to sew torn muscles so they can heal properly.
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When To See A Doctor
In the majority of people, trapezius pain can be successfully treated with stretching, strengthening exercises, and short-term use of pain medicines and ice/heat application. But its important that you seek professional medical care if your trapezius pain is severe and does not improve with home treatments. You should see a doctor for trapezius pain if:4
- The pain is severe .
- You are unable to move your neck and shoulder.
- The pain has been present for more than 7-10 days.
- There are signs of infection, such as fever and redness of the skin in the trapezius area.
- There is a visible deformity, such as one shoulder is lower than the other at rest.
How Tight Scalene Muscles Cause A Trapped Nerve In Your Neck
Your scalene muscles are 3 muscles found on the side of both sides of your neck. Their job is to flex your head sideways. They also elevate your 1st rib, allowing you to take more air in. As I explain in my video below, these muscles can get tight from stress and forward head posture. Both things can shorten these muscles.
Shortness in your scalene muscles is significant because you have a nerve bundle running through your front and middle scalene. When your scalenes are tight, these nerves can get trapped.
When the scalene muscles are causing a trapped nerve in your neck, nerve pain can occur all the way down to your hand! So, you will want to address this issue.
In my video below, I will go into more detail about this issue and what you can do about it.
I show a few stretches in this video. You should have NO PAIN when you do them!
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Neck Pain Treatment For A Pinched Nerve
Of the many treatment options for shoulder and neck pain, the one that will work best is the one that is closest to solving the reason for the pinched nerve pain. When neck pain is due to nerve compression it is important to include a direct and appropriate pinched nerve treatment for best results. If nerve compression or a pinched nerve in the neck is causing pain and related symptoms of numbness, coldness, tingling or weakness, conservative treatment measures are usually sufficient to completely reduce the compression and neck pain within a few weeks.
Conservative treatment to get neck pain relief from a pinched nerve can use one or more of the following:
- Rest for no more than 48-72 hours, followed by slow introduction of light activity
- Application of cold/heat packs
- Neck stretches to reduce swelling and increase range of motion aids recovery
- Low impact strengthening exercise
- Cervical collar or brace to limit the amount of movement and prevent further nerve compression in the early stages of activity
- Deep tissue massage to the area of chief complaint
- Static neck traction to open joint spaces and reduce soft tissue fixation
- Light manual manipulation to involved spinal segments
- Acupressure or acupuncture in the local area and related areas that influence the neck
- Limited and conservative use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
Where Does It Hurt
In most cases of upper trap pain, patients report constant ache and burning muscle pain right in the upper trap muscle and neck area. This can happen on one side or both sides. If this is a chronic cases of upper trap pain, active trigger points in the muscle can refer pain into the neck and head and present as a headache. Your nervous system is a lot like a tree, with the base of the tree near your neck and the branches running through the rest of your body. Because of this, its possible to feel the effects of a pinched nerve in other parts of your body besides your neck. Understanding the root cause of your pain is fundamental approach to treating your pain in the long run & will decrease your dependence on painkillers or treatment that only address the symptoms.
To Get A “Insider’s Look” At Our Treatment Approach And How We Get Results…
- Learn The Essential First Step… So You Can Get Pain Free Again
- See Why Treatment Needs To Be Individualized, Not Standardized…So You Get Faster Results!
- Learn How You Can Save Money…So You Don’t Have To Waste $1000’s On Unnecessary Treatments
To Get A “Insider’s Look” At Our Treatment Approach And How We Get Results…
- Learn The Essential First Step…So You Can Get Pain Free Again
- See Why Treatment Needs To Be Individualized, Not Standardized…So You Get Faster Results
- Learn How You Can Save Money…So You Don’t Have To Waste $1000’s On Unnecessary Treatments
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How Can I Keep My Trapezius Healthy
To keep your muscles strong, you should focus on staying healthy overall. To avoid problems with your trapezius, you should:
- Exercise and stay flexible: Many different shoulder stretches and traps exercises can improve range of motion, strengthen muscles or relax tight muscles. Yoga, Pilates and other gentle exercises can help keep muscles strong and flexible. When youre exercising, dont overdo it. Stop if you feel pain.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Carrying extra pounds increases your risk of muscle strain. Talk to your provider about the most appropriate weight for your body and lifestyle.
- Warm up before you exercise: Take time to stretch and warm up properly before you exercise. Youre less likely to injure warm, flexible muscles.
Corpectomy And Strut Graft
Perhaps a more popular procedure for removing the pressure on the spinal cordcausing spinal stenosis and cervical myelopathy is to remove the front of thespinal canal. This means that the large part of several of the vertebrae mustbe removed – the vertebral bodies and the discs between. This procedure is called a corpectomy. “Corpus” means body and “ectomy” means remove. Oncethe vertebral bodies have been removed, the space must be filled with something.Again, just as in the anterior cervical fusion, this space is usually filledwith a bone graft. Some type of internal fixation is usually required to holdthe vertebrae and the bone graft in place. You will probably also need to beplaced in a halo jacket to hold your head perfectly still while the healingoccurs and the vertebrae fuse. This is a very uncommon procedure.
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Symptoms Of A Trapezius Strain
The primary symptom experienced by trapezius strain sufferers is pain that can be felt in all areas of the back that the trapezius muscle innervates. Pain exacerbates when using the arms for any activity as they connect to the shoulder blade, leading to a decreased range of movement.
Trapezius muscle pain symptoms typically include:
- Sore or aching sensation
- Difficulty performing daily tasks that require arm movement
- Tenderness over the area of injury
- Warmth over the area
- Swelling of the affected area
- Muscle spasms
Why Does Poor Posture Cause Pain
Poor posture is one of the biggest causes of trapezius pain as well as back, neck and shoulder problems, so it is definitely worth spending some time working on improving your posture. Having poor posture often leads to:
- Back, Neck and Shoulder Pain: From stiffness, tightness, compression and wear and tear on the bones, soft tissues and nerves and increases risk of future injuries and joint problems such as shoulder impingement or arthritis
- Poor Circulation and Digestion: from compressed organs and blood vessels. Over time this can affect your metabolism and can lead to varicose veins
- Impaired Lung Function: and capacity leading to reduced oxygenation, shortness of breath and poor cognitive function
- Spine Malalignment: can affect the normal curvature of the spine and lead to areas of stiffness and hypermobility
- Poor Sleep: can be hard to find a comfortable position for your body to relax into
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Exercise Is The Cure For Tight Traps
Like all muscles, the trapezius is prone to overuse and injury. The cause can vary. Maybe youve been swimming regularly. Maybe you just started working out and put excessive stress on your shoulders and neck. You might have carried a heavy object. Or, perhaps your job requires you to sit in one position for a long time. Any of these scenarios can lead to tightness and pain in the trapezius muscles.
First, know that you are not alone. About 1 in 5 adults have ongoing pain in the neck and shoulders. Longstanding trapezius pain is somewhat more common in women compared to men.8
Fortunately, you dont have to live with these symptoms. Physical activity and exercises are proven to be effective for both acute and chronic trapezius myalgia . There are specific strengthening exercises that can significantly reduce trapezius pain. By following a regular exercise program, you can prevent further trapezius pain from occurring.
The Injurymap app has many stretches and strengthening exercises for the trapezius specifically and the neck and shoulders in general. Include these exercises in your regular workout routine. This will help reduce trapezius pain and strengthen the muscle to prevent future injuries.
How To Improve Standing Posture
As a physio and pilates instructor I’ve helped hundreds of people to improve their posture. Whether you are standing still for long periods or walking around, good posture is really important so here are my top tips:
- Stand Up Tall And Straight: imagine a piece of string attached to the top of your head pulling up towards the ceiling
- Tuck Your Chin In: draw you chin in slightly so your ears are over your shoulders rather than your chin poking forwards
- Keep Your Shoulders Back: draw your shoulders up 2cm, back 2 cm and down 2cm for the perfect resting place
- Keep Your Rib Cage Relaxed: and tucked down
- Keep Your Pelvis In Neutral: Pop both hands on your waist and slowly tip your pelvis all the ways forwards and then backwards a few times find the midpoint and rest there
- Use Your Abdominal Muscles: Gently draw in your lower stomach to activate your core hold at around 30% of a maximum contraction
- Keep Your Knees Soft: dont let them push back into hyperextension
- Keep Feet Shoulder Width Apart: taking weight evenly between both legs rather than just one
- Spread Your Weight Through Your Feet: Image a triangle under each foot, with points under the base of your big toe, little toe and heel spread your weight evenly between all 3 points
- Other Top Tips: when using smartphone, hold it up so you arent tilting your head down
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What Are The Next Steps
Getting started is simple. The first step, and the key to getting you pain free again, is to solve the root cause or your case of pain. Remember, not all pain is the same. Your pain is different than someone elses pain, even though it may be in the same area. If youre ready to get pain free, give us a call at 494-8835 or fill out the form below. The next step is to schedule your evaluation so we can solve the root cause for you. Were happy to answer any questions you may have and we would love the opportunity to help you.
Dr K Daniel Riew On Technology
Save this to read later.
You see it everywhere. In homes and offices, while walking down the street, riding the bus, or standing in line. Tech neck, the act of stressing muscles while using phones, tablets, and computers, resulting in neck and shoulder pain, stiffness, and soreness, is a problem thats getting worse.
Last year, Americans spent a daily average of 5 hours and 53 minutes with digital media, including 3 hours, 17 minutes a day on non-voice activities on mobile devices a jump of more than an hour since 2013, according to eMarketer.
The result? Headaches, neck spasms, and creaky shoulder joints, caused by holding ones neck still for long periods, says K. Daniel Riew, M.D., director of cervical spine surgery and co-director of spine surgery in the department of orthopedic surgery at the NewYork-Presbyterian Och Spine Hospital. Here, Dr. Riew breaks down the causes and symptoms of tech neck and offers ways to correctly and safely align the body while using mobile phones, computers, and other digital media devices.
So how should you sit? A better way to sit is with the chair reclining 25-30 degrees with a good lumbar support to prevent slouching. In this position, the discs in the back, as well as the neck, are subjected to much lower forces than in an upright position, and the muscles in the back of the neck no longer have to contract to hold your head up.
Dr. K. Daniel Riew
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What Precautions Should You Take
Keep in mind that alternative therapies are approaches that fall outside traditional medical practice.
Talk to a doctor about these methods before trying anything, as some of these therapies may pose a risk to your health. Also, make sure you seek services from licensed professionals to ensure that youre receiving quality care.
Try Heat Or Cold Therapy
One way to calm a trapezius muscle spasm is to do heat or cold therapy. Heat can boost your blood circulation and keep your muscles flexible. This can prevent them from spazzing and experiencing pain. It will also send warmth through the area which can soothe an injury.
Cold therapy also increases blood circulation but will reduce inflammation. It will slightly freeze your nerves which stops them from tingling. This can significantly reduce pain.
If you feel pain around your trapezius, immediately put an ice pack on it. Youll want to apply it every few hours for 15 minutes at a time.
Once you feel the pain subside, you can start heat therapy. You can apply a heating pad to the area or stand in the shower and let warm water hit the muscle. As with cold therapy, make sure to be consistent with it. Youll want to do it for about 20-minute sessions three times a day.
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