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Trapezius Muscle Spasm Pain Relief: What You Need to Know


The body’s muscles function to produce force and motion. The trapezius muscle is one of the largest, which makes it highly susceptible to injury/s and spasms. A trapezius muscle spasm is when the muscle starts to contract. This muscle group is based around the neck and shoulders and is used to move the scapula shoulder bone.  

Trapezius Muscle Spasm Pain Relief: What You Need to Know

Causes of Trapezius Muscle Spasms

A few causes for this muscle to become inflamed/irritated include:

  • Poor posture
  • Injury
  • Stress
  • Tension
  • Improper lifting


The effects feel similar to a pulled shoulder muscle. Common symptoms include:

  • Upper body stiffness
  • Shoulder pain
  • Neck pain
  • Arm numbness/tingling
  • Lack of shoulder flexibility


Spasm and Pinched Nerve Difference

A muscle spasm and a pinched nerve might seem similar but differ. A muscle spasm makes the area tight and can cause muscle twitching. They vary in intensity, with some spasms being mild and others excruciating. Sometimes, a spasm can cause a nerve to get pinched if the knot contorts tightly around a nerve and if it is big enough. Conversely, a pinched nerve can also cause twitching, which typically results in severe pain. Pinched nerves can also cause tingling sensations and numbness; depending on the severity, it could cause muscle spasms.  

11860 Vista Del Sol, Ste. 128 Trapezius Muscle Spasms: Chiropractic Treatment and Relief

Treating The Spasms

There are a few ways to treat this naturally.

Heat and Ice Therapy

One way to calm a muscle spasm is by using heat and ice. The heat will increase nerve and blood circulation, keeping the muscles flexible, and the warmth will soothe the injury. This helps prevent the muscles from spazzing and generating pain. Ice therapy also increases blood circulation, but the focus is on reducing inflammation. The nerves become slightly frozen, which stops the tingling, significantly reducing the pain.

If pain presents around the trapezius, immediately put an ice pack on. It should be applied every few hours in 15-minute sessions. Once the pain subsides, heat therapy can be applied. A heating pad should be placed around the area, a warm/hot bath, or standing in the shower with a massage setting, letting the warm/hot water hit the muscle. But it must be consistent, doing it for about 20-minute sessions thrice daily.

Stretches and Exercises

Stretches and exercises can help keep the muscle flexible and prevent any tightening.

Upper Trapezius Stretch

This stretch will move the upper trapezius area, promoting flexibility and preventing the muscle from becoming stiff.

  • Sit in a chair with proper posture.
  • Holding onto the chair with the left hand, wrap the right arm over the top of the head so that the hand touches the left ear.
  • Gently pull the head toward the right and hold.
  • Slowly move the head back and repeat with the other hand.

Shoulder Shrugs

  • Moving the shoulders up and down throughout the day stretches the trapezius.
  • It releases tension and strengthens the muscle to protect it.
  • This exercise should be done every few hours for about a minute or two.
  • Also, occasionally rolling the shoulders will help stretch the smaller components of the trapezius.

Cobra Pose

This yoga pose is for relieving tension.

  • It can be very helpful for those suffering from severe spasms or a pinched nerve.
  • The first thing is to lie face-down on the floor.
  • Keeping the feet straight behind, use the hands to gently push the upper body up so that the spine slightly curves.
  • Ensure the hands are situated in front of the body and firm on the ground.
  • Hold for a few seconds, and then release.
  • Repeat the process three more times.
11860 Vista Del Sol, Ste. 128 Trapezius Muscle Spasms: Chiropractic Treatment and Relief

Therapeutic Massage

  • The soothing motions from a massage will calm irritated areas and encourage them to heal quicker.
  • At first, a massage could present with pain because of the tenderness around the area.
  • The massage therapist must press on the area to increase blood circulation so toxins get flushed out.
  • While it might hurt, the individual soon notices that the swelling and pain are reducing.

Some massage techniques include:


Chiropractors specialize in the musculoskeletal system and understand how the muscles, bones, and joints work together. For muscle spasms, they investigate the problem and look at other areas of the body that could contribute to or worsen the condition. For some, muscle spasms could be brought on by a misplaced joint pressing on the area. A chiropractor will palpate the areas to ensure this is not the case. And if there is a problem, they will perform a joint manipulation. This realigns the joint back in place and reduces muscle spasm symptoms. Over time, the muscles become healthier because chiropractic releases toxins and improves the range of motion.

Body Composition

Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Often, muscle spasms are the result of inflammation. When a muscle swells, it can place pressure on surrounding nerves. The more intense the inflammation, the more pressure/stress on the nerves. This can make moving and functioning very difficult because of the pain. To naturally reduce inflammation, consider an anti-inflammatory diet. This type of diet is filled with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that will work to reduce swelling. Although it might not completely repair the muscle injury, it can reduce symptoms and stop oxidative stress. Foods to eat more of are:

  • Cherries
  • Tomatoes
  • Almonds
  • Blueberries
  • Oranges
  • Salmon
  • Kale
  • Turmeric

Finley JE. Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation for Myofascial Pain. Medscape. emedicine.medscape.com/article/313007-overview#showall. Updated May 21, 2017. Accessed July 16, 2018.

Rodante JA, Al Hassan QA, Almeer ZS. Myofascial Pain Syndrome: Uncovering the Root Causes. Practical Pain Manag. www.practicalpainmanagement.com/pain/myofascial/myofascial-pain-syndrome-uncovering-root-causes. 2012;6. Last updated on October 5, 2012. Accessed July 16, 2018.


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Professional Scope of Practice *

The information herein on "Trapezius Muscle Spasm Pain Relief: What You Need to Know" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

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Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.

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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN*, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*

email: coach@elpasofunctionalmedicine.com

Licensed as a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) in Texas & New Mexico*
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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN* CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
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