Trigger Points in Trapezius Muscle

The Trapezius muscle is a diamond shaped muscle that seats like a cape over the shoulders.It is made up of three sections, upper, middle and lower and attaches to the base of the skull, to the collarbone (clavicle), shoulder blade (scapula) and C6 to T12 vertebrae. Each section has its own attachments, actions and common symptoms.

How the trapezius lies on the body and what it looks like.

The trapezius’ main function is to move the shoulder and scapula in lots of different ways. This will depend on which fibres (section) are being activated. Trigger points in the trapezius cause people to seek help more often than any other trigger point.

Pain referral pattern



Common Symptoms

Upper Trapezius

  • Headaches on the temples…typical question mark from neck round to temple, TrP 1,
  • Facial, temple or jaw pain,
  • Pain behind the eye,
  • Servere neck pain,
  • Dizziness or vertigo, limited range of movement (ROM) and an intolerance to any weight on the shoulders.

Middle Trapezius

  • Mid back pain,
  • Headaches mainly at the base of the skull,
  • Superficial burning pain close to the spine,
  • Aching pain to top of shoulder near joint.

Lower Trapezius

  • Mid back, neck and/or upper shoulder pain,
  • Possible referral pain to back of the shoulder blade, down inside the arm, into the ring and little fingers,
  • Deep ache and diffuse tenderness over the top of the shoulder.

Perpetuating causes of trigger points

  • Stress, Stress, Stress…one of the biggest contributors to trigger points in the trapezius. We carry a lot of strain in our shoulders and can end up wearing our shoulders as earrings!! RELAX your shoulders, BREATHE!!
  • Poor posture,
  •  Sitting at chair without armrests or armrests too high,
  • Typing on keyboard that’s too high,
  • Cradling phone between your shoulder and ear,
  • Sitting slumped without back support,
  • Professions or activities where you are bent over for long periods of time, eg: dentist/hygienist, architect, secretary, computer operator, massage therapist!
  • Sleeping on your front or back with head rotated to the side,
  • Breast feeding,
  • Turning head to side for long periods of time, having conversation with someone on one side of you,
  • Playing the violin,
  • Forward head posture,
  • Constricting pressure on the shoulders, eg: bra straps that are too tight, a bag or back pack that is too heavy, a heavy coat,
  • Carrying a shoulder bag on one shoulder – no matter how light the bag is you will be hiking one shoulder up!
  • Jogging, kayaking, weight lifting, turning head to side to breathe while swimming and sudden one-sided movements,
  • Structural problems, eg: shorter leg length, large breasts or short upper arms,
  • Fatigue,
  • Injuries, eg: whiplash, falls on the head or sudden side to side or front to back movements of the head.

There are many simple solutions to resolving a lot of the symptoms mentioned above including modifying your activities, retraining yourself to relax your shoulders, improving your body mechanics, having a long shoulder strap on your bag so you can drape it across your body but also look at having a smaller bag so you don’t overload it! Having trigger points deactivated and your posture assessed will help greatly towards relieving many of these symptoms.


Obviously this is an overview of some symptoms that maybe caused by trigger points in the Trapezius but if you are suffering from any of the above symptoms and you are concerned, then you should always have a check up with your doctor.


If you suffer from any of the symptoms mentioned or wish to know more about Trigger Points, you can contact me via my website www.hwmassage.co.uk or email me info@hwmassage.co.uk.

Till next time, keep happy and healthy.


H&W Massage Therapy


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