- Trapezitis is a spasm of the muscle Trapezius, which is located at the back of the neck and along the shoulders.
- This condition hinders normal movement of the head and shoulders.
- It is common in people who work long hours on the computer or who have bad posture.
- It also affects people who do strenuous activities involving the trapezius muscle such as swimming, gymnastics, gymming, etc.
- It is not a serious condition but people who suffer from trapezitis may find it difficult to move their head and shoulders which can cause discomfort and uneasiness.
- It mostly resolves on its own within 3-5 days but if it lasts for long, it may lead to nerve compression.
- Treatment is mostly topical creams and gels like muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatory medications.
Table of Contents:
Chapter 1: What is a Trapezius muscle?
The trapezius muscle is a large, flat, and triangular muscle in the upper back that arises from the nape of the neck and spreads along with the shoulder blades. The trapezius function is responsible for keeping the head elevated and the shrugging motion of the shoulders. Physical stress to the trapezius muscle is one of the trapezitis causes, and can result in difficulty in the movement of the neck and shoulders.
What is Trapezitis:
Trapezitis pain is a condition where the trapezius muscle goes into a painful spasm due to trapezius strain or vigorous exercise. This condition affects the muscle and causes trapezius muscle pain, which hinders the normal movement of the shoulders. It causes pain or stiffness of the neck and shoulders or upper back. Trapezitis is not a contagious disorder and most likely resolves on its own. If left untreated, trapezitis causes loss of movement and even nerve compression.
Who is most likely to develop Trapezitis pain?
Trapezitis pain is most likely to affect individuals who:
- Work extensive hours on a computer without taking any breaks to stretch.
- Indulge in strenuous physical activity like gymming and/or any rigorous sport.
- Work at desks for long hours
- Drive for long hours
- Look down at their phones or similar devices for long periods of time.
Chapter 2: Trapezitis Symptoms
Trapezitis symptoms are usually easily identified. Those suffering from trapezitis pain shall experience pain in the neck and shoulders after working or driving for a few hours. They also note that the pain and stiffness reduce only after a good night’s rest.
Common trapezitis symptoms that people may experience:
- Difficulty in movement of the neck
- Difficulty in movement of the head.
- Trapezius pain radiating down arms and back
- Numbness or tingling sensation in the arms
- Muscle stiffness
- Decreased movement in the shoulders or neck due to pain
- Tilted neck position to compensate for the trapezitis pain
Note: Most of the Trapezitis symptoms resolve through proper rest and do not last for more than 3-5 days. Kindly seek medical attention if pain persists after 5 days as this could lead to muscle stiffness or loss of movement. If left untreated, trapezitis can be triggered very easily and may lead to nerve compression.
Along with the above-mentioned symptoms, people may also notice trapezius trigger points in trapezitis. Trapezius Trigger points (TTP) may feel like raised spots or trapezius knots that may be painful and sensitive to touch. There are two types of trapezius trigger points:
- Active trapezius trigger points
- Latent trapezius trigger points
Active trapezius trigger points may be painful when you make even the slightest movement. Latent trapezius trigger points may be painful only when someone applies pressure to those trigger points.
Chapter 3: Trapezitis Causes
Majority of trapezitis symptoms may be caused due to a number of factors which include trigger points as well. Most of these trapezitis causes can be avoided by making basic posture changes. These poor postures and other factors are as follows:
- Poor posture while working or studying
- Breastfeeding without proper support to back and neck
- Tilting head to hold a phone between ear and shoulder for long hours or looking down on the phone (Text neck)
- Carrying heavy objects with bad postures
- Vitamin deficiency
- Strenuous/rigorous activity that involves the trapezius muscle
- Trauma such as accidents or roller coaster rides that have poor neck support
- Sleeping in irregular positions
- Having a pre-existing joint condition
- Physical activity that involves the trapezius muscle like playing piano, violin, or bike riding.
Chapter 4: Trapezitis Treatment
Practicing good posture and sitting the right way without straining your muscles is crucial for trapezitis cure. You can also try gentle oil massages or heat packs. Use the right pillow to alleviate the pain and avoid sleeping on your back.
Trapezitis treatment options:
Some of the treatment options for trapezius pain relief are as follows:
1. Stretching and Yoga:
A good exercise routine is a great way to stay healthy and fit. While gymming with equipment may be too much strain for your trapezius muscle pain, stretching, and trapezius exercises can help relieve stiffness and loosen the tight muscles. It will also help in strengthening muscles and improve flexibility. Some of the best trapezius exercises for trapezitis are:
- Stand straight and upright.
- Slowly push your shoulders backward and hold for three seconds
- Bring back and wait three seconds
- Repeat 5 - 10 times.
Left, right, up and down:
- Stand straight and upright
- Slowly look to your right. Refrain from going all the way if pain persists.
- Come back to the original position.
- Repeat for all directions.
- These trapezius exercises are done to stretch upper trapezius muscles.
- Stand straight and upright
- Wrap your arms around your body to give yourself a hug
- Hold for 5 second
- Release and repeat
- Stand straight and upright
- Slowly tilt your head towards your shoulders without moving your shoulders upwards
- Bring head back to the original position
- Repeat on the other side
- These trapezius exercises are done to stretch trapezius muscles.
2. Adequate amount of rest
Most people notice that a good night's sleep and rest is a natural trapezitis cure for the condition. An average individual needs a minimum of 8 hours of sleep to feel fresh and rejuvenated the next morning. If you spend hours on a desk, driving, or on any other activity that includes stress on your trapezius muscle, make sure to compensate for the pressure on the muscle and get plenty of rest to feel better.
3. Muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatory medications
If trapezius pain persists for over 3-5 days, orthopedic doctors shall prescribe muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatory medications such as analgesics, to relax the muscle and reduce inflammation. Most cases of trapezitis pain are cured through medications.
3. Pain killers:
Temporary trapezius pain relief can be achieved by taking pain killers. However, it is better to seek medical attention if the problem persists after 3-5 days.
For extreme cases, physiotherapy and zone therapy may be suggested. Physiotherapy is an excellent way to reduce inflammation, tightness, trapezius spasm, and stiffness in the muscles. Some of the best physical therapy for trapezius strain are as follows:
6. Heating pad:
Applying dry or wet heat to the trapezius muscle pain can also relieve stiffness and reduce inflammation. A basic hot water bag or a heating pad made up of silicon shall trap the heat inside and keep the pad warm for a long period of time.
It is vital that you seek medical attention before starting any treatment. For further assistance at your convenience, consult a physical therapist online via the mfine app or website from the comfort of your home.
Chapter 5: FAQs
Is it normal to have trapezius pain for months?
No, it is not normal to have trapezius pain for months. Trapezitis pain lasts only for 3-5 days. For persistent pain that spreads to the arms and back, kindly seek medical assistance or consult an orthopedician online. If left untreated, trapezius muscle pain can lead to nerve compression and loss of movement.
How to relieve chronic tight trapezius muscle?
Consult a doctor for muscle relaxants or anti-inflammatory medications. You could also try heating pads and cold press techniques to relieve stiff and tight muscles. Furthermore, physical therapy for trapezius strain and other trapezius exercises have been observed to loosen sore muscles. For more information, kindly read the treatment options above.
What are some good trapezius muscle stretch exercises?
Some good trapezius exercises that help loosen tight muscles are shoulder blade squeezes, slow head rotation, slow left to right exercises, and shoulder shrugs. Once your trapezitis pain is cured, you can try push-ups and bench press exercises to strengthen your trapezius muscle from future damage.
You should also practice good posture and make sure to take timely breaks from desk work and long drives and also make sure to get plenty of rest after a day of vigorous work/exercises.
What are the trapezius functions?
The main function of the trapezius muscle is to control the movement of the head and the shoulders. It helps in shrugging shoulders, turning the head towards all directions, and lifting heavy objects.
What are the trapezius trigger points and what do they cause?
Upper trapezius trigger points are responsible for neck, shoulder, and headaches in trapezitis. Lower trapezius lower points cause pain in the arms and back. There are two different types of trigger points - Active trapezius trigger points and latent trapezius trigger points. Active trigger points are knots that make it difficult to move. Latent trigger points are points that are sensitive only when someone applies pressure on them.
Is it advisable to get a trapezius massage from someone who’s not a professional?
No, it is not advisable to get a trapezius zone therapy from someone who’s not a professional physiotherapist. Applying incorrect pressure on the trapezius muscle can worsen the condition. Getting zone therapy from trained professionals is absolutely vital. Physiotherapy is also good for relieving pain. Some of the best techniques are reflexology and laser therapy.