Levator Scapula & Pain Patterns
Published in the Times Standard

      The upper back and lower neck are often areas of pain and tension for many people. Postural stress and tensing, whiplash or emotional stress can result in recurring muscle spasms of the neck and upper back to the shoulders. Headaches, neck and shoulder pain, and stiffness are often the result of this irritability.
      One of the chief muscles involved with these symptoms is the levator scapula. This muscle runs down the sides of the neck and originates by the tendonous attachment from the lateral processes of the first to the fourth cervical vertebrae. 
      The levator then attaches to the inside upper border of the scapula or wing bone. Its purpose is to work with the shoulder and upper arm to assist in raising the scapula. Contraction of the levator pulls the scapula upward and slightly toward the spine. Chronic tension of the levator, therefore, and its involvement with the cervical spine and the shoulder will often time be very tender to palpation or touch. 
      This tension can be due to injuries to the neck, shoulder or upper back causing decreased nerve and blood flow through the area. Sharp tenderness to palpation will be elicited at both ends of the muscle over the upper cervical spine and at the top of the scapula. 
One may find it difficult to raise the arm over head or turn the head. The headaches are often related to the upper cervical misalignments as the muscle pulls on the vertebrae. This subluxation or misalignment can cause interference with the nerve flow to the muscles of the skull and cervical spine.  Circulation can also be restricted affecting blood flow and lymphatic drainage from the many lymph glands of the neck.
      Treatment needs to focus on restoring joint movement of the cervical spine and thoracic spine, as well as relaxing of the levator and upper back related musculature. Once the compromised joints of the spine are released, muscle function will be restored. Relaxation and stretching techniques can then be initiated for long term care and relief. 
      Shoulder and neck tension can be debilitating and tiring as coping mechanisms are strained. Through Chiropractic care, energy can be restored and homeostasis or body-balance renewed “naturally".
Crosbie Chiropractic
Michael H. Crosbie, D.C.
1828 Main Street
Fortuna, CA 95540
(707) 725-5668