Shown above is the pain pattern for the Levator Scapulae muscle. The pain in the angle of the neck and along the inside of the shoulder blade that refers to the back of the shoulder and the bottom tip of the shoulder blade.
Activities Which Aggravate the Pain
Occupational activities such as typing, with the head and neck turned to look toward one side of the typewriter, making long telephone calls, and talking at length, with the head turned toward someone sitting at one side; vigorous exercise that involves increased head turning such as playing tennis, or swimming when out of shape; repetitive rotation of the head as in "spectator neck," using a cane or crutches that are too long.
Positions that Aggravate Pain from this Muscle
Watching a stage or movie screen, sleeping with the neck in a tilted position without adequate head support. This figure shows where the muscle is located in the body and how it is attached to the bones of the body.
Anatomy Facts - Levator Scapulae
Together both muscles are used to control neck flexion. Alone, the muscle rotates the glenoid fossa downward and elevates the scapula. Also, one muscle helps to complete neck rotation to the same side. The levator works together, with the upper trapezius and the upper portion of the serratus anterior, to elevate the scapula. The levator, rhomboids, and latissimus together rotate the glenoid fossa of the scapula downward.
The fibers originate from the transverse process of the first four cervical vertebrae.
The fibers insert on the ventral and superior aspect of the scapula.
Branches from the third and fourth cervical nerves.
Trigger Point Locations - Levator Scapulae
You can find your own trigger points by using your thumb or finger to press on the spots shown in the picture. They are not difficult to find. Or you can ask a friend or family member to help you. Press firmly in a step-by-step manner until you find the exact spot that is tender. That is the trigger point.
By pressing firmly on the trigger point, and holding that pressure for several seconds, you will discover the pain lessens dramatically. In fact there are devices that can help you do this. We recommend a device called a "TheraCane" that can be purchased at many stores such as Sammons Preston Medical Equipment that has a mail order catalogue that can be contacted at 1 800 323-5547. The TheraCane is their item # 5244. The TheraCane can use be purchased at many local pharmacies.
Unfortunately this technique, known as acupressure, or shiatsu, provides only temporary relief. Some physicians inject drugs like Novocaine into trigger points, but these offer only temporary relief as well, and can cause scar tissue in the muscle.
Isometric Contraction Testing - Levator Scapulae
A painful muscle will become more painful if it is forcefully contracted (flexed). Use this picture to test this for yourself with the help of a friend or family member.
Follow these Directions
Place the forearm of your painful side against the small of your back with your palm facing out while your assistant places one hand against the side of your head and the other on top of your shoulder. Attempt to shrug your shoulder bringing the tip of your shoulder toward your eye while your assistant prevents you from doing so.