The trapezius muscle -- a triangular band of tissue that runs from the back of your neck to your middle back and helps you shrug your shoulders -- can literally give you a pain in the neck. Strain from overuse and injury can cause neck stiffness and aching, as well as pain in your shoulder blades and upper back. Blue Shield Alternative and Complementary Health advises seeing a doctor if you have numbness or tingling, weakness, severe pain, redness or increased pain with head and neck movement.
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Your trapezius muscle can be injured by a sudden trauma, such as a fall, whiplash or a collision with another player in contact sports. Repetitive stress is also a common cause of injuries. According to Health and Nutrition Tips, trapezius strain -- in which the muscle or connective tendon stretches or tears -- can develop as a result of sitting too long in a chair with no armrest, or armrests that are too low. Repeated trapezius strains can result in chronic neck pain, a condition known as trapezius myalgia. The primary symptoms of trapezius strain include a stiff, aching neck with dull pain and tightness in the upper portion of the back. There may be small areas of more intense pain, often described as feeling like knots. Trapezius strain is also common in people who lift heavy objects, such as mail carriers and weightlifters.
According to MayoClinic. com, you can care for minor trapezius strain at home using the RICE treatment. Rest from the activity that caused the strain, and apply an ice pack for 15 minutes every few hours. You can also reduce discomfort by applying an elastic bandage. Neck Solutions adds that you should elevate the muscle above your heart -- meaning that you should avoid lying flat -- and apply heat with a hot bath or heating pad after the initial swelling has subsided. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications and topical creams can be employed for pain, if you have no conditions that preclude their use.
Massage for Trapezius Strain
Neck Solutions notes that you can use massage to reduce pain and stiffness in your trapezius muscle. The website advises using one or two fingers to apply a firm, steady pressure for at least 60 seconds. Then massage the area in circles for another minute or two. For hard-to-reach areas, you can use a back massager.
Herbalists often recommend ginger to reduce inflammation and swelling. Ginger's volatile oils contain the anti-inflammatory agents beta-bisabolene and zingiberine. Drugs.com, which provides medically-reviewed information to consumers, reports that most studies on ginger show an ability to reduce pain greater than placebo but less than that of traditional anti-inflammatory drugs. The usual dosage is 250 mg to 1 g of root powder taken three to four times per day. Consult your doctor before using ginger, and don't take it if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Bromelain, an enzyme extracted from pineapple, contains proteolytic enzymes that may reduce inflammation. In a review conducted by S. Brien and colleagues and published in the December, 2004 issue of "Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine," the author concluded that bromelain has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, but said more study was needed to evaluate its usefulness and proper dosage in treating inflammatory conditions. Drugs.com notes that the usual dosage is 40 mg three or four times a day. Ask your doctor before using bromelain. If you are pregnant or breast-feeding, don't take bromelain.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- Neck Solutions: Neck Strain
- Health and Nutrition Tips: Trapezius Strain
- MayoClinic.com: Strains and Sprains
- Drugs.com: Complete Ginger Information
- Blue Shield Complementary and Alternative Health: Strains and Sprains
- Drugs.com: Complete Pineapple Information
- Pubmed: Bromelain as A Treatment For Osteoarthritis: A Review Of Clinical Studies