What is Trapezitis?

Trapezitis is an inflammation caused in the trapezius muscles which further leads to pain and spasm in the neck. It is increasingly becoming common among people working at desk, using computers and also those who do physical labor or use their neck and back muscles a lot. It is necessary to know the causes and symptoms of trapezitis in addition to the treatment guidelines to be able to manage the condition well.

Trapezius is a large muscle towards the back which arises from the nape of the neck. The muscle performs many main functions of our body, the most important out of them all is lifting the head upwards and shrugging off the shoulder. Apart from this, majority of muscles located in the back, also facilitates movement, rotation and stabilization of shoulder blade. The wide, flat muscle covers most of the upper back and also posterior of neck, responsible for making the back feel comfortable. However, as trapezius covers a large are, inflammation in it or trapezitis can cause severe pain and also affect the related movements.

The pain caused due to trapezitis lasts for a short period of time, which is usually between 3 to 5 days. Some of the major reasons which lead to the pain include stress and fatigue to the muscle. This is not all; bad posture is also termed as one of the major reasons of pain. Trapezitis is majorly found in individuals who are required to keep their head stable for a long period of time. Hence people working on computers for long or driving for long distance majorly suffer from trapezitis.

What is Trapezitis?

Causes of Trapezitis

Traditionally trapezius was termed as large muscle of neck and upper back. The name of the muscle came due to its trapezoid shape. Trapezius is made up of bands of muscle fibers. The three bands consist of superior muscle fiber band, middle and also the inferior band. When any individual suffers from inflammation in any of these three bands, it is termed as trapezitis.

Some of the common causes of trapezitis include:

  1. Working for a long period in the same position.
  2. Reading a book in an awkward position for a prolonged period.
  3. Driving for long distances.
  4. Watching television in the same or an awkward posture for long time.
  5. Breast feeding women too can suffer from trapezitis, especially if she bends her shoulder while feeding her baby.
  6. Some people may also experience trapezitis, due to weak muscles of the neck and back, which may have resulted from other health conditions or injuries. Trauma, fall or blow on the neck or back can be one of the causes of trapezitis.

The above mentioned are some of the reasons which can cause strain on trapezius muscle of the body leading to acute pain and trouble. The pain is quite common in modern day life, which occurs because of overuse or improper use of muscles at workplace or home.

Symptoms of Trapezitis

Initial symptoms of trapezitis are quite mild, which shall begin with some discomfort in the neck.

Some of the symptoms of trapezitis commonly experienced by people include,

  1. Pain is felt at nape of neck, usually during evening or night after working hours or driving for long.
  2. Muscles become stiff and tight, which can only be healed or treated after the patient takes a good sleep or an effective massage.

After the early stage of trapezitis passes away, individuals are still said to suffer from problems mentioned below;

  1. Episodes of pain are often experienced causing pain in neck.
  2. There may also be difficulty in movement of neck due to spasms.
  3. After prolonged period of pain due to trapezitis, the pain becomes more troublesome and may appear often by the slightest trigger or strain in the trapezius.
  4. Pain and tightness in the neck and trapezius muscle may last for usually 3 to 5 days in an individual.
  5. During this phase of trapezitis, patient might also complain of pain in their arms and hands.
  6. In some conditions of trapezitis, particularly long standing ones, the chronic muscle spasm may also lead to nerve compression. This often results in further symptoms of trapezitis like tingling, numbness or even weakness in the arms, hands and fingers on the affected side.

Above mentioned are some of the common symptoms which can be witnessed in individuals suffering from trapezitis. If patient is seen suffering from such symptoms on regular basis, it is advisable for them to approach a professional and take a feasible treatment.

How is Trapezitis Treated?

The acute pain in neck caused due to trapezitis, can be treated by following conservative treatments. Treatment guidelines for trapezitis in such a situation include

  1. Analgesics, anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxant medicines can be used for controlling pain and swelling associated with trapezitis.
  2. Rest is highly advisable to patients suffering from neck pain, such that strained muscle fibers can get relaxed.
  3. Application of ice works best in acute stages of trapezitis, which can help to reduce the swelling and inflammation.
  4. Regular breathing exercises in the morning can prove beneficial to individuals suffering from trapezitis. It helps to improve the posture and promotes proper breathing thus improving blood circulation in the area.

Some of the measures as a part of treatment guidelines for trapezitis can be adopted to manage the pain and discomfort.

  1. It is better to avoid sleeping on the back, as this might cause severe strain on back leading to acute pain.
  2. For maintaining alignment in spine and neck, a comfortable pillow should be chosen for catching a comfortable sleep. Pillow can help maintain correct posture of body, ensuring no strain or pain in the back or neck.
  3. Spasm of muscles can be relaxed with gentle massage using olive oil or warm coconut oil. Massages should be preferably taken from professionals who have adequate knowledge and can provide massages with expertise and care. Medical advice can be sought regarding this.
  4. Patients are also recommended to avoid carrying heavy weight on back. Instead comfortable bag pack should be used which will cause less strain on their back or neck. By using a good bag pack, burden shall get distributed evenly all over without causing strain or pain in a specific portion.

More Treatment Options for Trapezitis

For prolonged pain or chronic type of discomfort due to trapezitis, some more treatment guidelines can be considered

Steroid Injections – Sometimes, even after prolonged treatment, frequent pain tends to appear in the trigger back and neck points. Such points tend to remain painful for a long period of time. In order to get rid of such pain in trigger points, it is important to identify them correctly and get it treated with steroid injections. At least 2-3 injections in an interval of 15 days should be given to patient to help them get rid of the pain cause in neck and back.

Cervical Collar - Soft cervical collar is one of the best treatment alternatives which can be chosen for getting relief from pain due to trapezitis. With this collar, nodding movements can be very well prevented and restrained, thus causing no stress on back or pain. Apart from this, patients are allowed to make sideways movement, thus allowing the neck muscles to remain active and strong. However, before opting for the collar it is important to make a note of the fact that excessive use of collar can weaken the muscles and give way to vertebral diseases in the person. Hence use of cervical collar should be made in a restricted manner, after seeking assistance from experts if necessary.

Physical Therapy – Physical therapy is of great help to reduce the muscles spasms, pain and other symptoms of trapezitis. Rehabilitation exercises, which include flexibility and strength training, help to improve the movements, functioning and strength of the neck and back muscles.

People suffering from trapezitis need professional assistance and timely treatment to ensure complete recovery. Knowing the causes and studying symptoms of trapezitis closely can also help understand the severity of the issue, so that right treatment can be offered in time. Medical professionals follow the treatment guidelines for trapezitis and offer the best treatment options to alleviate the symptoms and cure the condition.

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Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: May 22, 2017

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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