Trapezius muscle pain relief

Updated April 17, 2017

The trapezius muscle is a pair of large triangular muscles that extend from the middle of the back to the shoulders and neck. Because these muscles are used for a number of movements (i.e., head, shoulders, arms) they are prone to pain and injuries. More women tend to have pain in their trapezius than men. Trapezius muscle pain relief can include massage, ice, medication and exercise.


Treatment for trapezius pain has been on the rise ever since people started using computers (repetitive stress). Talking on the phone a lot can also irritate this area. People can miss work because of trapezius pain. Pain in the trapezius or traps causes referred pain in other areas like the shoulders, head, jaws and eyes. It is often difficult to get immediate relief from this pain. An indeterminate number of disability claims occur because of trapezius pain.

Types of Massage

There are about 10 trigger points in the trapezius muscle that can be massaged for temporary relief. These pressure points are along the back of the upper traps from the shoulder to the neck; and inside the shoulder blades. Pressing any of these trigger points can provide pain relief in these muscles. An individual can best reach these areas by lying down on her side and using the opposite hand to apply pressure. Lying on a tennis ball or pushing one against the wall with the trapezius is another way to hit them directly.

Types of Exercises

One way to alleviate pain in the trapezius muscles is to exercise. This helps get the blood flowing in the area, which has healing properties. Doing shrugs with light dumbbells can build strength in the traps. It is also important to build muscle strength in surrounding muscles such as the deltoids (shoulder muscles) and upper back. This helps take pressure off the trapezius. Lifting light dumbbells above the head, raising them to shoulder height and in front can build strength in the deltoids. Pulling exercises can build strength in the upper back.

Types of Therapy

Resting the trapezius and applying ice can help relieve pain in the trapezius. Ice promotes vasoconstriction, which temporarily minimises blood flow to the area to reduce inflammation. It is important to use ice as soon as any pain symptoms appear. Ice should only be used at 20-minute intervals. Ibuprofen and other anti-inflammatory medications can also alleviate pain and inflammation.


Doing simple stretching exercises regularly can help prevent trapezius pain. Shrugging the shoulders up and down is one such exercise. Holding both arms up like football goalposts and moving them back and forth is another stretching exercise.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author