What is Levator Scapulae Muscle and What is its Function?

The Levator Scapulae Muscle is situated on the side and behind the neck. This muscle also forms one of the components of the shoulder. The main function of the Levator Scapulae Muscle is to elevate the scapula. The scapula is a bone which is located behind the shoulder and connects the humerus to the collarbone. A strained levator scapulae muscle often results in an individual experiencing a stiff shoulder and neck. The Levator Scapulae Muscle is also responsible for an individual being able to shrug the shoulders. It is also responsible for an individual being able to carry heavy objects on the shoulder. The Levator Scapulae Muscle originates just below the skull and is attached to the cervical vertebrae. The other end of the muscle is attached to the scapula. This upper part of levator scapulae muscle is encompassed by the sternocleidomastoid muscle which facilitates rotation and flexion of the neck. This muscle is innervated by the dorsal scapular artery. A Levator Scapulae Muscle Strain may result in shoulder and neck pain along with stiffness of the shoulder and neck. The range of motion of the neck and shoulder will also be reduced. Levator Scapulae Muscle Strains are treated conservatively with ice and hot packs along with exercises for the neck to relax the muscles along with use of muscle relaxants.

Signs and Symptoms of Levator Scapulae Strain

Signs and Symptoms of Levator Scapulae Strain

Symptoms of a strained Levator Scapulae Muscle are stiffness and pain of the neck and shoulder. The pain may radiate to the upper and midback region as well. The muscles in the neck will also feel tight especially at the end of a long day at work sitting in front of a computer or doing heavy lifting on the shoulders.

What Can Cause Levator Scapulae Muscle Strain?

Some of the activities that can result in a strain of the Levator Scapulae Muscle are:

  • Sitting with a forward bent posture for a long period of time with little to no movement of the neck can cause levator scapulae muscle strain.
  • Holding cell phones to the side of the neck with the neck bent towards one side for long periods of time can also strain the levator scapulae muscles
  • Repetitive heavy lifting on the shoulders
  • Carrying heavy backpacks normally during hiking expeditions.

What is the Treatment for Levator Scapulae Muscles Strain or Injury?

What is the Treatment for Levator Scapulae Muscles Strain or Injury?

Some of the treatment options for Levator Scapulae Muscle Strain are:

Electrical Stimulation: This quite an effective way to relax the strained Levator Scapulae Muscle. In this procedure a small amount of current is applied to the muscle to fatigue the muscle and hence relaxing it.

Massage: This by far the best way to relax the strained levator scapulae muscles. Myofascial massage is used to loosen up the tight muscle. The massage is aimed at elongating the levator scapulae for adequate relaxation of the Levator Scapulae Muscle.

Ultrasound: This is also quite an effective way to relax the Strained Levator Scapulae Muscle. The ultrasound is performed using a sedative antiinflammatory gel which is applied to the strained Levator Scapulae Muscle.

Exercises for Levator Scapulae Muscle Strain:

There are quite a few exercises which can be done to relax the Levator Scapulae Muscle. Some of the exercises are:

Standing Levator Scapula Stretch: To do this exercise, you need to stand up straight with the feet kept at shoulder breadth apart. Now, bend the chin to touch the chest slightly deflecting to the right. Place the right hand on the head and pull down the head gently till a stretch is felt. Maintain this position for about 10 seconds and then repeat the same maneuver for the opposite side.

Feline Stretch (Cat Stretch): To do this exercise, lie down on the floor on all fours and then try and raise the back until a stretch is felt and maintain this position for about 10 seconds. Do this in sets of 5 with 3 reps.

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Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: September 3, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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