Shoulder pain may occur frequently at work, specifically for workers constantly using their arms and hands. These workers can range from office workers, to baristas, to professional athletes. The repetitive or static motion of the upper limbs can potentially put pressure on one muscle called the upper trapezius. This in turn could possibly cause neck pain in some individuals.
One study had shown a strong association between trapezius muscle tenderness and neck/shoulder pain in office workers. Tenderness was more common in women than in men (23% vs. 7%)2. Another study had shown a high prevalence of work-related muscle disorders, particularly in the shoulders (57.9%) and neck (54.3%) among cooks and restaurant workers1.
As there is no particular reason to why an increased in trapezius tenderness is associated with neck/shoulder issues, it is possible to be influenced by multiple sources. One source would be the serratus anterior muscle (known as the punching muscle). A study had shown a significant correlation (48.3%) between serratus anterior strength and upper trapezius pain1. Serratus anterior weakness may lead to shoulder dysfunction, impingement or abnormal scapular movements resulting with an overuse of the upper trapezius muscle3. However, these results are not conclusive as no study has shown direct causal relationship at the moment.
However, if you experience shoulder pain especially at work, check in with us at Sprouting Health Chiropractic. It just might be related to weakness of another muscle. Let us find out!
1. Hwang U, Kwon O, Chung H, Jeon H, Weon J, Ha S. Predictors of upper trapezius pain with myofascial trigger points in food service workers. Medicine [Internet]. 2017 June;96(26):7252.
2. Brandt M, Sundstrup E, Jakobsen MD, Jay K, Colado JC, Wang Y, Zebis MK, Andersen LL. Association between Neck/Shoulder Pain and Trapezius Muscle Tenderness in Office Workers. Pain Res Treat [Internet]. 2014; doi: 10.1155/2014/352735
3. Page P. Shoulder muscle imbalance and subacromial impingement syndrome in overhead athletes. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2011;6(1):51-58.
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