Trapezius Strain

The trapezius or trap muscles span through the upper back, shoulders, and neck, providing mobility for your shoulders and arms. When this group of muscles over-stretches, tendons and fibers within the muscles tear, causing a trapezius strain. A torn trapezius muscle limits strength and movement, especially in the arms and shoulders.

What You Need To Know About Trapezius Strain

What is a Trapezius Strain?

Along with controlling the shoulder blades, the neck, and the head, the trapezius also assists other muscles in moving the upper chest when a person breathes. When confronted with excessive force, muscles, bands of tissues, and/or tendons in the trapezius tear, constraining shoulder, neck, and arm movement. Typically, an upper back muscle strain heals with ice, rest, and physical therapy that provides flexibility and strength to the pulled trapezius.

Finding compassionate trapezius strain treatment starts with a visit to Resurgens Orthopedics. Schedule an appointment with our upper back strain experts today.

What Causes a Trapezius Strain?

The most common trapezius strain causes include:

  • Excessive typing on a keyboard

  • Cradling a phone between the ear and shoulder

  • Carrying a heavy bag

  • Weight lifting

  • Playing an instrument for an extended time

  • Contact Sports

  • Collisions

  • Falls

Trapezius strains most commonly result from overuse of the muscle. However, acute strains can be caused by trauma from an outside force or a fall. Acute strains cause stiffness, tenderness, and pain to the trapezius muscles.

Trapezius Strain Symptoms

Symptoms of trapezius strain vary based on which of the trapezius muscles experience injury and the severity of the injury.

The range of strained trapezius muscle symptoms includes:

  • Stiff, sore, and aching muscles

  • Bruising where the injury occurred

  • A burning sensation radiating through the shoulders and the upper back and neck

  • Warm and tingling muscles

  • Muscle spasms

  • Swelling muscles

  • Headaches

  • Limited mobility in the shoulder, neck, back, or arms

  • Little strength in the shoulder, neck, back, or arms

Pulled trap muscle symptoms may worsen with activity.

How is a Trapezius Strain Diagnosed?

At Resurgens Orthopaedics, our expert physicians diagnose trapezius strain by developing an understanding of our patient's medical history and the cause of the injury. If the patient cannot directly identify the cause, we can assess any regular, repetitive activities causing agitation in the trapezius muscles.

The specialist may also suggest:

  • A physical examination and range of motion test (the patient moves the neck, arms, etc. to determine the patient's range of motion, and the doctor will assess any noticeable rips or tears in the muscle and muscle tissue)

  • X-rays to determine if a bone fracture caused the strain)

  • MRIs to determine the position and severity of the strain and to determine the occurrence of hematoma — a collection of blood where the injury occurred

Trapezius Strain Treatment

Most trapezius strains heal through rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medication, but some severe cases may require surgery.

Non-Surgical Trapezius Strain Treatment

In less severe cases of trapezius strain, our physicians may recommend:

  • Rest: minimize the use of the affected muscles

  • Ice: to reduce swelling in the muscles

  • Compression: to reduce swelling in the muscles

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs: to reduce swelling and pain in the muscles

  • Physical Therapy: to restore strength and motion to the trap muscles after they heal

Surgical Trapezius Strain Treatment

If the injury seems unresponsive to non-surgical treatments or if the muscles rupture during injury, we may recommend surgery to restore strength to the muscle or to reattach any detached tendons, bones, or muscles.

At Resurgens Orthopaedics, our team of revered orthopaedic specialists provides quality care for aching bones and muscles. If you experience any pain or limited mobility in your trapezius muscles, schedule an appointment at one of our many Metro Atlanta locations.

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