La Clinica

Physical Therapy for Trapezius Strain

Most people don’t think about the trapezius until they struggle to raise their arms. The trapezius is a triangle-shaped muscle on each shoulder. These muscles extend from the neck down to the spine and across your shoulder blade. The left and right trapezius support the arms whenever you raise your hands. A trapezius strain can feel sore and painful. It can also reduce your shoulders’ range of motion. Fortunately, physical therapy can help you overcome the pain and restore normal function. This is your complete physical therapy guide for trapezius strain.



What Causes Trapezius Strain?

The trapezius muscle plays a vital role in controlling many movements of your arm and shoulder. These muscles are heavily used to throw something or even move your head and neck. Unfortunately, you can develop a trapezius strain when the tendon overstretches or tears. Usually, trapezius strains occur due to overuse or repetitive tasks like carrying a heavy bag for many hours. Sports injuries, work, and auto accidents can also cause a trapezius strain.


Trapezius muscle pain varies from mild to severe depending on the severity of the injury. It is classified into grade I, grade II, and grade III. Grade I strain is mild, and only a few fibers are overstretched or torn.


On the other hand, grade II strain is moderate and more fibers are stretched and torn. Grade III trapezius muscle strain is more severe and can result in loss of muscle function. 


Common symptoms of trapezius strains include:

  • Swelling
  • Cramping
  • Reduced muscle function
  • Popping sensations
  • An abnormal gap in the muscle outline
  • Muscle pain
  • Pain that gets worse when you move your shoulder


How does Physical Therapy for Trapezius Strain Works?

If you have a trapezius strain, it is best to apply the RICE treatment (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) right away. From there, you should seek the expertise of a qualified physical therapist. The physical therapist will ask you various questions like how the trapezius strain occurred and whether you have ever developed a trapezius strain in the past. 


The PT will also check your medical history and conduct various measurements to determine muscle strength, endurance, and flexibility. You might also have to take an MRI or advanced imaging techniques if necessary.


The physical therapist will also focus on other affected areas that might have been overworked, including your lower back, the shoulder blade, neck, and more. Your qualified physical therapist will develop a personalized treatment plan for your trapezius strain. This will help you get back to your everyday life as soon as possible.


Common physical therapy treatments for a trapezius strain include:

  • Pain management
  • Range of motion exercises
  • Muscle strengthening
  • Manual therapy
  • Patient education
  • Functional training
  • Assistive devices



The multi-care team at La Clinica is ready to help you overcome your trapezius muscle strain as soon as possible. We will combine our expertise with innovative physical therapy tools to reduce pain, restore full functionality, and prevent re-injury. Talk to our qualified specialists today to discover how we can help.