What is Trapezius Muscle Strain and How to Relieve the Pain

Trapezius muscle strain may not have been a term you’ve heard of before, but these muscles are vital to everything you do.  The upper back is anchored by two muscles, one for each side of the body and attached to the shoulders and neck.  (shown below) 

trapezius muscle
trapezius muscle strain

When you strain the trapezius muscle there are all kinds of problems you’re going to have to deal with muscle pain. Stiffness in the neck and upper back are prime symptoms. You may encounter spasms or even cramping. Tingling in one or both arms may occur with weakness. The range of motion of your head and shoulders is another sign that you may have a trapezius strain. In extreme cases, there may be swelling in the back of the neck or upper back.

Muscle Strain

Muscle strains occur, generally, with repeated low impact usage when the muscle doesn’t have enough time to heal. Most strains are what’s called a Grade 1 strain. Grade 1 strains involve less than 5 percent of the muscle fibers. This usually causes discomfort but not a complete lack of mobility.

Grade 1 Strains heal on their own and are not a sign of structural problems where a doctor is going to have to be involved. However, if there is a Grade 2 strain you’ll need a doctor’s help for maximum healing. Specifically, the trapezius can become strained when you’re doing work above your head for an extended amount of time.

Muscle Injury

When muscle trauma becomes severe enough then it moves up to a Grade 3 rupture. These require surgery to repair. With a Grade 3 injury to the trapezius, there will be a complete loss of upward mobility in one or both arms. Moving your head to the left and right can also be restricted depending on where the injury on the muscle has occurred.