Torn Trapezius


Situated on the larger part of a human’s posterior side is the trapezius or trapezoid muscle. This muscle goes from the occipital bone to the lower part of the spine known as the thoracic vertebrae. This muscle helps move the scapula and supports the arm. The name trapezius comes from the diamond-shape of this muscle. One of the most important nerves that is steered by the trapezius is the accessory nerve, which involves the motor function. The trapezius muscle has three parts: the upper, the middle and the lower. The upper part, also known as the descending, helps support the arm and its weight. The middle or transverse section retracts the scapula. The lower or ascending section or helps depress the scapula and rotates it. A torn trapezius is a tear in a part, multiple parts of the muscle which will limit your mobility depending on where the tear is.

Causes of a Torn Trapezius

A torn trapezius can occur from different causes such as:

  • Overuse of the muscleTorn Trapezius
  • Fall
  • Genetic disorders
  • Birth defects
  • Sports Injury
  • Pulled or strained muscle
  • Strain injury
  • Stress
  • Breastfeeding
  • Poor posture
  • Not warming up before working out or exercising
  • Heavy or weight lifting
  • Motor-vehicle accident
  • Acute injury

Some of these causes may lead to a minor strain of the trapezius muscle. However, if a strain goes undetected or untreated, then there can be serious consequences that lead to a torn muscle.


  • A torn trapezius can cause different symptoms to flare up. Some of these symptoms can include the following:
  • Pain in the neck, shoulder and/or back
  • Swelling
  • InflammationTorn Trapezius
  • Muscle spasms
  • Muscle cramps
  • Stiffness
  • Tightness
  • Aching feeling
  • Bruising around the neck and back
  • Burning sensation around the neck
  • Inability to bend
  • Limited range of motion
  • Weakness
  • Tingling in the arms
  • Difficulty turning head from side to side
  • Change of color of the injured area


Since a torn trapezius muscle cannot be spotted immediately, doctors will usually perform a physical examination to assess the situation. The examination can include things like moving the arm(s), lifting something, bending down, sitting up straight and walking. If there is any indication of a tear, then an X-ray can be requested.


Doctors will almost always recommend that patients with a strained or torn trapezius use the proper care via R.I.C.E. This stands for a combination of rest, ice, compression and elevation. Resting the trapezius will help avoid any further damage. Using ice packs and compression bandages can assist with reducing the swelling and movement. It is important to keep your body as elevated as possible because the trapezius muscle cannot elevate itself. Using heat and NSAIDs are great ways to reduce the pain from the tear. Depending on the situation, doctors may recommend therapeutic ultrasound. The ultrasound waves are high-frequency and help reduce the pain of the tear. Physical therapy is a great way to properly begin the healing process of a torn trapezius. A professional physical therapist can give you the do’s and don’ts about stretching and exercising the torn muscle.

How to Prevent a Torn Trapezius

Suffering from a torn trapezius is not fun, but there are some things you can do to avoid another or future injuries. Some of these prevention tips are:

  • Exercise properly
  • Do not overexert your body during a workout
  • Warm up before exercising
  • Do not carry heavy objects (if possible)
  • Improve your posture
  • Massage the trapezius area

It is very important to see a doctor if back pain gets worse or you are experiencing more symptoms. Regardless of how many times you may have seen Grey’s Anatomy, you are most likely not qualified to self-treat any injuries. When in need, seek medical care.