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A Muscular Pain in the Neck – Can Chiropractic help?

Muscular pain doesn’t always seem like a problem that you would see your chiropractor about. However, it is something that we successfully treat in the clinic every day. Chiropractors receive an immense amount of training in bodywork and recovery, especially muscles and not just the spine and nerves.
So let’s talk about that pain in your neck! You know that knot in the top of your shoulder that grabs when you turn your head? The one your massage therapist, told you was like a brick due to stress and was still sore despite a good rub. That is your Trapezius muscle. Commonly called upper traps. And yes, there is a middle and lower traps, but they are all the one muscle.

Why do they feel tight?

Upper traps will frequently feel tight or tense due to manly causes. Stress and anxiety are two of the most common reasons. But increase in load, lack of capacity and muscle imbalance play a significant role. What does that mean? Well, it means poor posture puts traps in an overstretched position where it is trying to counterbalance the weight of your head being forward, and it gets tired, fatigued and lacks blood flow. That feeling that you need to stretch your shoulders is traps, being overstretched and fatigued. Soreness comes from the lack of oxygen to the nerve endings, and neck pain or a headache generally follows.

As Chiropractors, we look at and assess the point of pain and the cause. Does posture really cause your trap pain? Is shoulder position adding to your pain? While massaging the point of pain may give you temporary relief, we want to provide you with long term improvement. We combine thorough assessment with muscle work, joint mobilisations, and exercise to get to the cause of the pain and treat the pain itself.

More about the Traps (Trapezius)

The traps are the most superficial muscle of the neck (cervical spine), upper back (thoracic spine) and the shoulder blade (scapula). The muscle attaches to the base of the skull, the lateral end of your collar bone, your shoulder blade, and your neck and upper back vertebra. Traps work in conjunction with other muscles to control the movement and position of your shoulder blades. Upper traps also work to redistribute forces away from your cervical spine, which is why posture is essential to release traps pain.

Most people I see in the clinic with neck or upper traps pain don’t have tight upper traps, despite their feelings. Instead, the tightness is a sensation due to the muscle being fatigued, weak and over lengthened because of postural imbalances. Low and forward shoulders overstretch traps, decreasing blood flow and increasing fatigue. As does forward head carriage. The muscle is more likely to be painful or get injured.

What does the treatment for my muscular pain involve?

Treatment for painful traps generally includes mobilisation work for shoulder position, stretching the anterior overactive muscles, and massage for the painful fatigued muscles—chiropractic adjustments or mobilisations for any joint restrictions. Options of dry needling, low-level light laser and cupping are also available in the clinic. Home strength work and stretching routines reinforce the treatment outcomes and improve posture. Reassessing ergonomics to help change the causative factors.

Written By Georgina Smith Chiropractor

Georgie has owned and worked at Hands On Health for the last 17years. She has a master of Chiropractic and a Diploma in Paediatric Chiropractic but enjoys treating all age groups. Georgie offers 30minute chiropractic consults with a strong muscular focus and restoring optimum movement to the spinal joints. To book an appointment with Georgie, CLICK HERE


May 10, 2022
Georgina Smith