Chronic Neck and Shoulder Pain (Trapezius Myalgia)

Myalgia is generally known as muscle ache. Trapezius is a large fan shaped muscle that extends from the cervical to thoracic region on the posterior aspect of the neck and trunk and attaches onto the clavicle and scapula. It consist of three parts: superior fiber elevates the shoulder girdle, middle fibers retracts the scapula , inferior fibers depress the scapula.

Trapezius myalgia is the complaint of pain, stiffness and tightness of the upper trapezius muscle typically at the superior fiber. It is characterised by acute or chronic neck-shoulder pain.

Do you know?

TM is not a medical disorder or disease but rather a symptom of an existing underlying condition. The pain in the muscles can last a few days or longer.

What are the common causes?

  • sedentary jobs (office job , typist, IT programmers)
  • Highly repetitive work (logistic, designers, factory workers)
  • Constrained work posturers (drivers, machine operators)
  • Psycho-social factors like stressful working environment , anxiety and etc.
  • Combination of these factors

Typical symptoms of TM:

  • Sudden onset of pain
  • Muscle spasms of the neck-shoulder
  • Heaviness of the head and headaches at the occipital region
  • Tenderness of the upper trapezius area
  • Tingling, prickling , burning sensation (Parathesia)
  • Anxiety

How bad is your pain?

What Thomson TCM thinks?

In Chinese medicine theory we believe that “pain is caused by blockage of Qi, if your body in pain it meant there’s an obstruction of Qi flow”.

Treatment consists of Electro-acupuncture, Moxibustion, Exercise therapy, Tuina massages and Chinese herbal medicine to regulate your mind-body energy.


World Health Organisations included Neck pain, low back pain, knee pain and pain related disorders are listed as treatable diseases and disorders with acupuncture.




What is acupuncture? How does it works?

How National Health Service (NHS) describes:

Acupuncture involves stimulating sensory nerves under the skin and in the muscles of the body. This results in the body producing natural substances, such as pain-relieving endorphins. It’s believed that these naturally released substances are responsible for the beneficial effects experienced with acupuncture. A course of acupuncture usually creates longer lasting pain relief than when a single treatment is used.


Thomson TCM Believes:

Acupuncture as a technique for balancing the Qi. When we insert needles on certain acupoints we can rebalance the flow of Qi believed to flow through pathway(meridians) in your body thus induced self-healing.


What can you expect from Acupuncture?

  1. During the procedure: Your practitioner will tell you the general site of the planned treatment and whether you need to remove any clothing. A gown, towel or sheet will be provided. You lie on a padded table for the treatment which involves:
  2. Needle insertion: Acupuncture needles are inserted to various depths at specific points on your body. The needles are very thin, so insertion usually causes little discomfort. Some might experience “soreness, numbness, distending or pain”.
  3. Needle manipulation: Your practitioner may gently move or twirl the needles after placement or apply heat or mild electrical pulses to the needles.
  4. Needle removal: In most cases, the needles remain in place for 20-30 minutes while you lie still and relax. There is usually no discomfort when the needles are removed.
  5. After the procedure: Some people experienced instant relief from their discomfort, some take a day or two to feel the differences. However, most feel relaxed and others feel energized after an acupuncture treatment. But not everyone responds to acupuncture the same. If your symptoms don’t begin to improve within a few weeks, acupuncture may not be right for you.

Exercise Therapy for TM:

  1. Overhead Shoulder Shrugs

Standing erect and holding the dumbbells to the side, then elevates the shoulders while focusing on contracting the upper trapezius muscle.

  1. Upright Row

The subject is standing erect and holding the dumbbells while the arms are hanging relaxed in front of the body. The dumbbells are lifted towards the chest in a vertical line close to the body while flexing the elbows and abducting the shoulder. The elbows are pointing out- and upwards.

  1. Reverse Flies 

The subject is prone on a bench at a 45° angle from horizontal and the arms pointing towards the floor. The dumbbells are raised until the upper arm is horizontally, while the elbows are in a static slightly flexed position (~5°) during the entire range of motion.

  1. Lateral Raise

The subject is standing erect and holding the dumbbells side, and then abducts the shoulder joint until the upper arm is horizontally. The elbows are in a static slightly flexed position (5°) during the entire range of motion.

Exercise has been shown to increase blood flow and therefore oxygenation to areas of the body with increase anaerobic metabolism.

Author Info

Wee Min Soo

Wee Min Soo

Ms Soo Wee Min holds a Master’s Degree under the tutelage of Professor Guo Zhi Qiang (one of China’s leading experts in gynaecology of Chinese Medicine) and Wang Bi Qin, the Chief Physician of Dongzhimen Chinese Medicine Hospital. Her Master’s Degree specializes in Clinical Science of Integrative Medicine, with sub-specialisation in Gynaecology.
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