Other back and neck pain

What Causes Trapezius Muscle Strain - All Possible Reasons

Nidhi Nangia
By Nidhi Nangia. August 11, 2017
What Causes Trapezius Muscle Strain - All Possible Reasons

The trapezius muscle is one of the biggest muscles in the human body in terms of size. It is situated in the middle and upper back of the body, divided into lower, upper and middle sections. It attaches with the shoulders through our neck and upper spine, and is responsible for making different kinds of possible movements, such as waving hello to someone, shrugging shoulders etc. Performing certain tasks repetitively which require frequent use of your shoulders, back and arms can increase your risk of having trapezius muscle strain. Here at oneHOWTO, let’s learn about what causes trapezius muscle strain.


  1. Symptoms of trapezius muscle strain
  2. Causes of trapezius muscle strain
  3. Treatment for Trapezius strain

Symptoms of trapezius muscle strain

The most common symptom of trapezius muscle strain is pain in your upper back area. The pain may start from your upper back and extend to your arms, shoulders and neck. The pain may worsen when you move your arms, neck and hands and may last for certain time. In addition to these, you may also experience following symptoms:

  • Difficult moving your shoulders and neck
  • Neck stiffness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Tingling or numbness in the area
  • Reduced range of motion in shoulders
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Warmth in the muscle
  • Headache
  • Swelling in the area
  • Arm weakness
  • Difficulty concentrating

Causes of trapezius muscle strain

There are several underlying causes of trapezius muscle strain that may require a specific treatment. This is why it's important to identify the underlying cause, so you can get treated accordingly by a doctor or professional.

Whiplash injury

Whiplash is a traumatic injury that can cause severe strain in your trapezius muscle. For instance, if you happen to get involved in a road accident, your head could snap backwards with a jerk and then forwards immediately. This strains your trapezius muscle and causes neck pain. Whiplash can also be caused due to physical abuse, contact sports and other such jerky movements. Your body posture at the time of accident can significantly affect how your trapezius muscle handles the jerk. Your muscle is minimally affected if you had a good posture at that time, because your body’s stabilization system responds to the jerk more efficiently and immediately. Take a look at the rest of the symptoms of whiplash to determine if this is the cause of the trapezius muscle strain:

  • Decreased range of motion
  • Feel tightness and knots in your neck
  • Tenderness
  • Frequent headaches at the base of your skull
  • Pain when moving your neck from side to side
  • Pain when looking over your shoulder

Injury due to repetitive stress

Your trapezius muscle can feel tight and develop knots inside it due to repetitive stress injury. Under this condition, excessive stress is exerted on your muscle, due to which it becomes highly strained, tight and painful. Repetitive stress injury is commonly caused due to numerous repetitive activities, such as working on computer, repeating strokes in a sports activity, holding your phone between your shoulder and an ear while talking etc.

Working at the computer for long hours

Sitting at your work desk and working on that computer for several hours at a stretch can strain your trapezius muscle immensely. It causes soreness in your muscles, and even leads to headache. According to a research, women have more chances of having trapezius muscle strain due to computer work than men.

Stress and tension

Stress and tension can also lead to tightening of your trapezius muscle, thereby causing pain, soreness and strain. Women’s life is generally more stressful than men's, due to which they are more likely to suffer from trapezius muscle pain. Stress causes your trapezius muscle to tighten, as a result of which you suffer from head, shoulder and neck pain. Pain spots can develop as a result of anxiety, stress and mental strain as well. In this case, make sure you know how to reduce stress effectively.

Carrying your backpack for several hours

Some people have to carry a backpack on their shoulders for extended hours, due to which their trapezius muscle gets immense pressure and strain all through the day. Some women also need to carry a purse on one shoulder, which also causes unnecessary strain on their muscle. Alternating shoulders to carry a purse and wearing a backpack in correct position can be effective in alleviating stress from your trapezius muscle, and prevent it from getting it strained.

What Causes Trapezius Muscle Strain - All Possible Reasons - Causes of trapezius muscle strain

Treatment for Trapezius strain

Once you have faound the causes of trapezius muscle strain and you have confirmed with your doctor, he or she will prescribe the necessary treatment, which you can combine with effective ways to get rid of trapezius muscle spasms too.

Medicines recommended for trapezius strain include anti-inflammatory drugs, narcotic prescriptions, steroid injections and others, depending on the severity of your condition.

Other things you can do at home to help your condition is to do the trapezius muscle stretch. You should not do this stretch under any circumstances if your trapezius muscle is torn.

  1. Relax your shoulders
  2. Use a yoga belt and cross it on your back, parallel to the floor
  3. Take your straps under your shoulders
  4. Cross the straps and pull them forward

This will lift your chest and your chest will be pulled back. This will avoid your trapezius muscle from contracting.

Moreover, you can try massaging with your favorite anti-stress essential oils too, although it's best that a professional masseuse does the job.

Take ginger tea in order to reduce trapezius muscle inflammation too as a home remedy.

Once your pain is relieved, you are recommended to perform exercises which focus on the strengthening of your trapezius muscle. Don't sit in the same position for several hours, and take short breaks to walk around while working on a computer.

This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to What Causes Trapezius Muscle Strain - All Possible Reasons, we recommend you visit our Diseases & secondary effects category.

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What Causes Trapezius Muscle Strain - All Possible Reasons