Throbbing Shoulder Pain? Trigger Points In Scalene Muscles Could Be The Source

(Anna K Massage) Scalene muscles are rarely suspected as a source.  Pain is not felt in the scalenes themselves, but scalene trigger points can refer pain or other symptoms to other areas in your body.

They can be the primary source of:

  • pain
  • numbing
  • swelling
  • burning
  • weakness
  • tingling

Symptoms can be felt in the shoulders, chest, arms or upper back between the shoulder blades.  A tight scalene can also pull your neck out of alignment.  In severe cases, pain or symptoms will reach all the way down to your hands and can be misdiagnosed as carpal tunnel syndrome.  If all conventional therapies do little or nothing to fix your pain, the solution can be remarkably simple and quick.

What are Trigger Points?

A trigger point is a twisted fiber within the muscle.  It feels like a tight and stretched rubber band.  They can cause local pain, but most often refer pain or other symptoms to a different part of your body. There are hundreds of trigger points and referral pain patterns in your body.  A skilled therapist knows which trigger points refer pain to which areas.

Affected Nervous System Function

The scalene muscles attach on the front side of the neck to C2-C7 vertebrae and to the first and second rib. When scalene muscles are tight and short, they can compress the cervical spine and can cause or contribute to a variety of symptoms related to the nervous system function.

the scalene middle

Organs that can be affected by tight scalenes:

  • C-2 optic nerve (eyes), sinuses, tongue, forehead – symptoms: sinusitis, ear aches, pain around the eyes, vision problems, hearing problems
  • C-3 cheeks, outer ear, face bones, teeth, facial nerves – symptoms: neuralgia, pimples, eczema
  •  C-4 nose, lips, mouth, eustachian tube – symptoms: hay fever, runny nose, hearing loss, adenoids
  • C-5 vocal cords, neck, glands, pharynx – symptoms:  sore throat, laryngitis, horseness
  • C-6 neck muscles, shoulders, tonsils – symptoms: stiff neck, arm pain, tonsillitis, persistent cough
  • C-7 thyroid gland, shoulder bursa, tonsils – symptoms: bursitis, colds, thyroid conditions

Why You Should See A Therapist

  • The body is more complex than most may realize
  • It takes a skilled & experienced therapist to release the muscle safely and effectively
  • Trigger points are hard to stretch out
  • Working the side that is short and tight is more important than the side that is long and sore.  The side with pain (sore) can be compensating in response to tight short muscles on the opposite side
  • Working too much on the wrong side can put your body into more dysfunction
  • The therapist can check if one side is tighter than the other and if any other muscles are involved


About the author: Anna Kramareva (LMT) Native of Russia and 2006 graduate of Ashamed college. Her focus of study and extensive research on bodywork makes her an effective and unique therapist. She specializes in Deep Tissue and Sports Injury Work. She also does Relaxation, Therapeutic, Trigger Point Therapy, Prenatal Massage, Hip Work, Abdominal Work, Psoas Work, Knee Work, Posture Correction, Bone Mobilization and Spinal Work – soft tissue techniques.

“I find Massage Therapy fascinating. There is so much more to it than most may realize. The body can be very complex. It is not enough to just know ‘the basics’. It takes a skilled and experienced therapist to achieve great results. My goal is to provide a great experience to my clients. I personalize massage sessions towards individual needs and preferences, continually upgrading my knowledge and skills, to provide the most effective sessions.”  -Anna K

Schedule Online: Click Here To Schedule With Anna

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  1. Research on Trigger Points:  Clarir Davies, NCTMB Amber Davies, CMTPT, LMT | Travell, and Simons 1999

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