Whole Body Health

Neck & Shoulder Pain

Shoulder Pain Is Usually the Levator Scapulae

Neck & Shoulder Pain

The levator scapulae is the muscle that is most commonly associated with stiffness and pain in the neck and shoulder. Symptoms typically associated with this type of “stiff neck” includes pain while turning the head and often accompanied by headaches.

Keeping the head turned to one side while typing, long phone calls without a headset, sleeping without proper pillow support, poor sleeping posture, poor ergonomic postures and other positions that cause a shortening of this muscle.  How to treat a stiff neck – identifying the causes of your stiff neck can lead to proper treatment and prevention.

Self-massage is a good method of self-treatment to use to relieve some of the tension in the neck. While massaging, be careful not to strain while reaching back.

The areas to massage are the “X”s in the upper right of the diagram and can be reached without strain by using a body back buddy or a TP Therapy massage baller. There may be other areas of compensatory muscle strain associated with a stiff neck and/or a headache, which is often relieved with the self-massage but if symptoms do not improve or worsen consult your health care provider.

One method for stretching this muscle is while standing beneath a hot stream of water on the neck in the shower. Behind your back with the hand opposite the involved side, grab the wrist on the side of the neck pain and hold, slightly pulling the arm down and simultaneously bend the neck away from the pain. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds. The movement should be small and only produce a mild discomfort. Repeat the procedure as needed.

There are many causes of a “stiff neck” and we have covered one of the most common causes and some methods of how to treat a stiff neck, however, if one persists despite judicious home treatment methods, always consult your health care provider.

Illustrations from Myofascial pain and dysfunction: the trigger point manual by Travell & Simons

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