Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Head and Neck Pain (Part Two)

Gosh, you must have thought I had fallen off the face of the earth as it's been 3 weeks since I last updated the blog. I am so sorry for leaving you hanging around waiting for this next episode in the series of 'Head and Neck Pain'.

I haven't forgotten to write; it's just been a manic time for my Level 6 Diploma in Advanced Clinical and Sports Massage. I have to submit a bunch of paper work on Friday this week to ensure that I get ethical approval for my research project so I have been busy working that all out. 

But now I can sit back and enjoy writing about the Trapezius Muscle and it's radiating pain patterns; it's a lot more fun than ethics and I love getting my books out! 

As always, if you have just joined me with this blog I would encourage you to read the posting entitled: Pain Patterns Explained as it will make the following easier to navigate through. Also, this blog is written for my clients and anyone who is interested in my work with muscular-skeletal pain, not anatomists! This means a lot of the anatomical language has been broken down into descriptions to make it easier to understand.

The Trapezius Muscle is a very thin (the width of a piece of paper) expanse of muscle across the top of your back. The lovely thing about muscles is that the name of them usually gives them away and it is true in this case as it is kite shaped. You have one on both sides of the back, however it's fascially attached so well that for this blog I am going to look upon it as one muscle with a left and right side. It starts just above the base of the head, crosses both shoulders to join on to the tip of your shoulder and onto the outer portion of your collar bone. It travels down your back and points down to attach on to the middle of the spine at T12.

We should, however, look on it in 3 different sections; the upper, middle and lower portion. The middle and lower portions can produce a pain pattern through out the shoulders, giving pain at the tip of the shoulder where your arm hangs, as well as right next to the edge of your shoulder blade near the spine. Today I am just going to take you through the movements and pain referred to the upper and middle portions of the Trapezius as that is where we find problems with the head and neck.

The upper fibres of the Trapezius are found running down from just above the base of the head and merge into the middle fibres where your neck vertebrae stops and where your thoracic vertebrae begin. The middle fibres run from this upper most merging point and then incorporate the lower fibres at around T5.

As you can see from this photo of Andrew Beil's fantastic anatomy book 'Trail Guide To The Body', it is quite a big muscle and does a lot of work. The upper and middle fibres allow you to bring your head down to your chest, flex your neck to the same side and turn your head to the other side as well as enabling you to bring your shoulders to your ears. The middle fibres make sure that your shoulder blade is stable and they can also bring your shoulder blade nearer to your spine. Pretty cool hey?!

These photos from 'Travell and Simons' Trigger Point Flip Charts' show the radiating pain that you can experience if your Trapezius is filled with Trigger Points. The pain travels up the back of the neck and then over the ear culminating behind the eye and sometimes you may feel pain in the back of the jaw, (near the angle). Unlike the Sternoclydomastiod that we looked at in the last blog, Tapezius doesn't tend to jump over to the other side of the body. This means if you come to see me with a head ache on the left side produced by 'knotts' in the left side of your Trapezius, I would treat the left side.

It's a big muscle, which is why I wanted to dedicate the blog to it this week.

Next time I want to start looking at how I would try to help muscle based pain in the head and neck in the treatment room; that's where the fun really begins!

I look forward to seeing you in the treatment room soon.

Take care

Restart! : I went for a blood test to see what my body is up to and I was really pleased to find out that I have great cholesterol levels and that I am not anaemic. It was a great spur to keep going with eating whole foods and a little exercise every day. I would encourage you to go to your doctor and get a well-being health check; it's really worth it as you can get a full picture to tell you how you are.

What I'm loving in the Treatment Room today: If you have Google Chrome and want to look at a really great new piece of kit, look up Google Body and it will take you through the whole body, so you can dissect down to the muscles of the body and search for Trapezius and it will show you in full 3D glory! I'm in love with it! Also, Apple has an app called Visual Body, which I think is better, but a bit pricey unless you are studying for anatomy/massage/bodywork etc. Have a play and let me know what you think. I am trying to work out how to get screen shots as JPEGs so I can up loads them for you to see ….. I'll keep pestering David to help me :) .

Music of the day: It's dissertation time; Florence and the Machine is keeping me going on that one.

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