Pain in the trapezius muscle is a common complaint. Often people have knots and many people claim to “carry their stress there.” Squeezing the fleshy area between your neck and your shoulder will reveal a knot if you have one. We like to blame the pain on stress, backpacks, and all kinds of other reasons for this pain. People often seek out different therapies to rid themselves of these painful knots. These are valid theories but do not offer solutions on how to get rid of the knot in the trapezius muscle.
Common Reasons For Trapezius Knot
In my practice I have noticed that a common reason for a knot in the trapezius is often overlooked. The reason may be because it is responding to a slight dysfunction at the acromioclavicular joint (AC joint), which is a place where the trapezius muscle attaches and a joint the trapezius moves. It rarely ever actively hurts at the particular joint.
Therefore, the trapezius spasm gets massaged, squeezed, injected, and lots of other therapeutic interventions, but the spasm is still there. Why? Because the trapezius muscle is contracting the protect the dysfunction at the AC joint. Unless the AC joint problem gets resolved, the trapezius will continue to spasm. The solution, therefore, is not to work on the tight trapezius “knot,” but commonly may be to work on the AC joint problem the trapezius is responding to.
Tips To Release The Trapezius Knot
Below are some self-help steps to release the trapezius knot if it is due to a dysfunction at the AC joint. Please understand that there are many other places that the trapezius attaches that can cause it to form knots. If releasing the AC joint does not work, that is the reason why.
- Evaluate the trapezius: Grab onto your trapezius between your neck and shoulder joint and give it a squeeze. Tenderness here may be indicative of an AC joint dysfunction. Also, it gives you a starting point to know how things have changed afterwards.
- Find your collar bone and trace it outward until you feel the end of it. There may be a divot there or a bump. That is your AC joint. Another way of finding it, is simply to place your hand on top of your shoulder and look for a bump.
- Grip your collarbone as close to the AC joint as possible and with your thumb and index finger and slowly wiggle it back and forth. You may notice that at first it is not tender, but as you do this an underlying tenderness will show up. Do this once a day until you feel that the bump can move a little more freely.
- Recheck your trapezius and see if it feels different. If the problem was from the AC joint, it should feel better.
- Do this once a day until it stops feeling tender and is freely movable. You should notice your trapezius will likely feel less tender and less sensitive.
I hope this helps. If not, you may need more advanced help. I recommend finding a good osteopathic physician that specializes in osteopathic manipulative medicine.