Musculoskeletal system

Trapezius strain-5 Causes, 8+ Symptoms, Diagnosis, 10 Remedies

Trapezius strain can be really very uncomfortable and irritating as we use Trapezius muscles every day for a range of activities like overhead activities, etc. Having Trapezius strain can make moving your shoulders very difficult. It can also make neck movements very painful and difficult.

Trapezius muscle strain greatly limits your overhead activity levels making doing even small things of everyday life difficult.

Anatomy of Trapezius muscle:

It is one of the main muscles of our upper part of the back. It is present on both the sides of the spine. It extends from the lower part of the skull until the thoracic vertebrae of the vertebral column. It helps in the movements of the scapulae or shoulder blade. It has three kinds of fibers called superior fibers, middle fibers, and inferior fibers.

All three of them have different functions or actions. Trapezius muscle helps in doing various activities like doing a shrug, retraction and adduction of scapulae, depression or downward movement of the shoulder blade, etc using its various fibers for various functions. Trapezius strain can affect all these functions of the shoulder blade.

Trapezius strain or Trapezius muscle strain causes:

Trapezius strain
Trapezius strain
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There are many different causes of Trapezius strain. Let us explore them below.

Abnormal posture:

Good posture is really important to maintain the muscle and bones and joints properly. If you are having any sort of abnormal posture for a prolonged time, it is sure to cause Trapezius strain.


Stress has a plethora of ill effects on our body. If you are undergoing any stressful periods in your life and having a lot of anxiety, it is very common to develop Trapezius strain. During stress, the muscles contract and become stiff. This can produce pain and stiffness in the Trapezius muscle.

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Trauma or injury:

If there is any trauma to the Trapezius muscle during Whiplash injury, blowout or hitting over the Trapezius muscle, fall over the muscle, etc, it can strain the muscle and cause Trapezius muscle strain.

Abnormal positions:

If you stand or sit in abnormal positions for a long time, this can exert pressure or stress over the Trapezius muscle that can lead to Trapezius strain.

Strained or pulled muscles:

If you happen to stretch or pull your muscles too much when performing any activity, this can lead to the development of Trapezius strain.

Trapezius strain symptoms:

There are many symptoms of Trapezius strain like:

Neck pain: Trapezius muscle plays a pivotal role in the movement of the neck. If there is any abnormality of the Trapezius muscle like Trapezius muscle strain, the movements of the neck are impaired, and there is neck pain.

Soreness: The area over the Trapezius muscle feels very sore and painful, as the Trapezius muscle is pulled or strained in this condition.

Tenderness: When you try to touch the area over the Trapezius muscle or when you press over that area, you feel that pain in getting increased. This is called tenderness.

Redness: You can notice that the area over the Trapezius muscle has become red in color due to the inflammation occurring over the area.

Stiffness: When there is the strain in the Trapezius muscle, the muscle automatically becomes stiff or tight. This makes the movements associated with Trapezius muscle very painful and restricted. So, the shoulder and neck movements are impacted as a result of this condition.

Bruising: If the Trapezius strain is being caused by an injury or trauma, the blood vessels over the muscle also get damaged. This can lead to the development of a bruise over the Trapezius muscle.o

Muscle spasm: Although Trapezius strain or Trapezius muscle strain is a painful condition by itself, it can also lead sudden shooting pain in the trapezius muscle due to muscle spasms.

Warmth over the Trapezius muscle: As there is associated inflammation with the Trapezius strain, we can feel that the area over the Trapezius muscle is warm to touch.

Other symptoms of Trapezius strain:

  • Weakness of the arm
  • Pain in the arm
  • Pain in between the scapulae or shoulder blades
  • Pain behind the head in the occipital region of the head
  • Paresthesias in the shoulder, neck, and arms like numbness, tingling, burning
  • Difficulty in concentrating and sleeping due to continuous pain
  • Swelling of the Trapezius muscle due to inflammation caused by Trapezius strain or Trapezius muscle strain
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Trapezius strain Diagnosis:

In order to diagnose the Trapezius strain, and the conditions which are leading to this, your physician will need to do the following:

Take a medical history:

The first step in the diagnosis of any condition is taking a detailed history from the patient. Your doctor will ask you if you have played any sports or if you have fallen anywhere or did you have any injury or trauma to the area of Trapezius muscle.

He will also ask you about your symptoms like arm weakness, neck weakness, stiffness, pain, restriction of neck and shoulder movements, etc.

Physical examination:

After taking a detailed history from you, your physician will then perform a physical exam to know various signs associated with your condition. He will test if there is any tenderness, check for signs of inflammation like redness, swelling, warmth, etc.

He will also perform nerves examination, and test your reflexes. He will also ask you to move your neck and arm in various directions to see where exactly you are having stiffness and restriction of movements to determine the muscle which is strained.

Radiological tests:

If your physician thinks that your Trapezius strain is being caused by an underlying disorder, he might order radiological tests like MRI scan or Magnetic resonance imaging scan. But, in most of the cases, it is not done.

Trapezius strain or Trapezius muscle strain treatment or home remedies:

There are many remedies that you can practice from the comfort of your own home to get rid of pain and problems associated with Trapezius strain. They are:

Taking adequate rest:

For any kind of muscle strain or injury including the Trapezius strain, you need to take ample rest. This will help to fasten the recovery time. You need to avoid doing activities that involve usage of the Trapezius muscle.

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Cold compress:

You can take few ice cubes. Place them in a ziplock bag, and then apply this cold compress over the strained Trapezius muscle. This can be used on any day after you develop Trapezius strain. It is really very effective in giving relief from Trapezius muscle strain.

Warm compress:

You can take a clean cotton cloth. Dip it in warm water, and squeeze out the excess water. Then apply this warm compress over the strained or pulled Trapezius muscle. You should not use warm compress during the first day when you develop Trapezius strain.

You can use it after 24 hours after developing Trapezius muscle strain. You can also heat some rock salt in a pan and place it in a cloth, and then use it like a warm compress.


You can take some analgesics which are available over the counter to reduce the pain associated with Trapezius strain. You can take analgesics like Acetaminophen, Diclofenac, Aceclofenac, Ibuprofen, etc.

Muscle relaxants:

You can also use some muscle relaxant medications which contain ingredients like Tolperisone, chlorzoxazone, etc to get relief from the Trapezius strain.

Warm oil massage:

You can take any oil of your choices like olive oil or coconut oil, etc. Then warm it up a little. Then use this oil to massage the Trapezus muscle. It provides good relief from the pain and swelling caused by Trapezius strain.

Epsom salt soak:

Epsom salt is very effective in relieving pains, swelling, and stiffness of the muscles and joints. Just add a cup or two of Epsom salt to your bathtub, and get soaked in it for 20 minutes to get good results from this remedy.

Reduction of activities:

You also need to avoid doing activities that are triggering the pain in the Trapezius muscles. Avoid all activities which involve using the Trapezius muscle, so that your Trapezius muscle gets good rest.

Using a massager:

You can use any electronic massager to massage the Trapezius muscle. This can also be very effective in relieving the stiffness and pain in the muscle.


You can do various exercises to get relief from the Trapezius strain. Some examples of such exercises are Stretches, Shoulder rolls, Upright rows, and shoulder shrugs.

You have seen all the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment options of Trapezius strain. Hope it was informative.

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