pulled trapezius muscle

Treating a pulled trapezius muscle

Fact Checked

Trapezius muscles are a triangle-shaped band of tissue found in the back on either side of the neck. The muscles are located in the back of the neck, along the spine until the base of the rib cage. It attaches the skull, neck vertebra, the upper and mid back vertebra to the shoulder blade and shoulder joint. A pulled trapezius can be due to vehicular accidents and colliding with another player.

Symptoms of pulled trapezius muscle

  • Difficulty moving the head or shoulders
  • One or both of the arms becomes weak when the trapezius muscles is injured
  • Neck pain and shoulder discomfort due to buildup of lactic acid. The pain can be severe, stinging sensations or feeling that the muscle is tied into knots.
  • Spasms and stiffness of the affected area
  • Tingling sensations in the arms due to constricted fibers of muscles in the area
  • Reduced ability to concentrate and feelings of being severely tired.
    Neck pain and shoulder discomfort due to buildup of lactic acid.
  • Headache at the back of the head


  • Take plenty of rest especially the affected trapezius muscle. Avoid performing activities that will cause further damage to the pulled muscles for at least 24-72 hours and for fast healing of the condition.
  • Wear a soft neck brace to lessen further damage to the affected area.
  • Apply ice and heat on the affected area. Apply an ice pack first on area for at least 10 minutes to lessen the swelling of the area. Ice can be in the form of ice packs, bag of ice and bag of frozen vegetable such as peas or corn. Ice constricts the vessels of blood to become narrow which lessen the symptoms of the condition. Avoid ice directly on the skin. Then follow it by applying heat on the area for 15 minutes to lessen the stiffness, soreness, muscle spasms and tightness of the muscles. Wrap whatever ice or heat therapy is used using a towel or a cloth before placing to the area to prevent ice burn and heat burn and worsen the condition.
  • In a bathtub filled with warm water, add 2 cups of Epsom salt, mix them together until salt is totally dissolved. Soak in the mixture for at least 10 minutes. Repeat this process three times every week. The warm bath relaxes the trapezius muscle and lessens the soreness, the stiffness and the muscle spasms.

Additional measures

  • Elevate the back and shoulders slightly upright when sleeping. Place a couple of pillows behind the back at least up to a 30-45 degree angle for proper circulation of blood in the area and for fast healing of the condition.
  • Take the prescribed pain medication such as paracetamol to lessen the pain and the inflammation.
  • Seek the help of the physical therapist for some rehabilitation exercises to strengthen the upper trapezius muscle and restore the normal function of the area.

Disclaimer / More Information

The material posted on this page on a pulled trapezius muscle is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize and manage this injury by taking a first aid and CPR class with one of our training providers.





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