National Associaltion of Myofascial Trigger Point Therapists - Symptom Checker

Levator Scapulae
This is the technical name of the muscle being described.  This name may be used to find additional information in any medical resource. Levator Scapulae
A group of muscles generally denotes muscles of the same function and may share a common attachment point. Scapular Elevator
Muscle function, in this definition, is what the muscle could do if it was to contract by itself with the body in anatomical position.  This is a general definition of muscle function.  For more information on how muscles work together on the body please refer to a physiology or functional anatomy text.

The levator has two distinct functions.  When the neck is stabilized, the levator will elevate the scapula as a whole.  When the scapula is stabilized the levator, due to its fiber orientation, will assist in neck rotation to the same side.

A description of where a Myofascial Trigger Point may produce pain in the body.  This area is generally located away from the trigger point.

The pain referred from TrPs in the levator scapulae muscle are some of the most common TrPs in individuals that suffer from neck pain or neck/shoulder pain. Pain is referred to the angle of the neck where the base of the neck meets the thorax.

A description of the symptoms a person may experience with trigger points in the muscle being described.

A person with TrPs in the levator scapulae may complain of pain at the angle of the neck as well as a painful “stiff neck”.  A person will be unable to turn the head fully to the same side because of pain on contraction, and not completely to the other side either because of painful increase in muscle tension.  To look behind these people will turn their entire body.


 A list of possible diseases that fit the information derived from examination of a patient.

  1. TrPs in the splenius cervicis.
  2. Scapulocostal syndrome.
  3. Referred pain from facet joints around the C4-C5 level.
  4. Articular dysfunction of C3, C4, C5, or C6 or several of these segments.

A list of activities or positions that may either CAUSE a trigger point to manifest or PROLONG a pain condition respectively.

  1. Secretarial work.
  2. Typing while looking to one side and down to copy information from another source.
  3. Using a computer, in which the monitor is deviated to one side or another, allowing the body to face forward and the head to be deviated for long periods of time.
  4. Carrying of a heavy purse on the affected side.
  5. Sitting at a table and talking to a person off to one side (the body forward and head turned).
  6. Sleeping with the neck in a tilted position.
  7. Exposures to cold drafts.
  8. Watching a movie from the left or right sides.
  9. Watching TV where the TV is off to one side verses the direction the sofa/chair is facing.
  10.  Sitting in a chair with armrests that are too high.
  11.  Walking with a cane that is too long that forces unnatural elevation of one shoulder.
  12.  Playing vigorous tennis.
  13.  Swimming the crawl stroke.
  14.  Rotating the head repeatedly as when watching a basketball game – “spectator neck”.
  15.  A motor vehicle accident.
  16.  Asymmetries in the lower body, such as lack of a normal push off during walking.
  17.  Some viral and bacterial infections may activate TrPs in the levator.

A corrective action is usually a modification of daily routine which will reduce stress on the affected muscle(s) in a person with myofascial trigger points.

  1. A person may learn how to release this muscle themselves by using a method of self treatment.
  2. When talking to people or watching a movie or TV be sure that the head and body are facing the same direction.
  3. Lower keyboards that are too high or elevate the chair – refer to proper ergonomics.
  4. Use a bookstand at the workplace to put materials on that are being typed onto a computer to avoid strain.
  5. Employment of a headset when using the phone will remove excessive strain from the levator and free up the hands to complete work more efficiently.  A speaker phone will work as well.
  6. Have a cane that is too long be properly fitted.
  7. Use a scarf to keep the neck warm in cold climates or in places prone to drafts, including airplanes.
  8. When in bed pillows should be used to keep the head from deviating to one side or the other and should also keep the head and neck level in relation to the body.

References : 
Simons DG, Travell JG, Simons LS, Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual, vol 1, 2nd Ed. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 1999.

Travell JG, Simons DG, Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction, vol 2. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins, 1992.

This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease.  A proper diagnosis should be sought from a licensed health care provider.