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Treatment for Strained Levator Scapulae

young man working at laptop experiencing neck pain

Treatment for Strained Levator Scapulae

The sharp pulsating pain that you feel in the back of your neck region and in the middle region of the back could be caused by a strained levator scapula muscle. Sitting in your chair all day and staring at the computer screen with little or no movement causes stiffness or tightness in the levator scapulae. Though the disease can affect both the scapula muscles on the left and right side, in most of the cases, the left side is affected. 

What causes Levator Scapulae strains?

The levator scapula muscle-tendon originates on the transverse process of the first four cervical vertebrae of the cervical spine (neck) and attaches to the scapula (shoulder blade). The levator scapulae are twin muscles located on either side of the neck. The contraction of this muscle is important for the elevation of the scapula causing the shrug movement. Strain in the levator scapula muscle can be caused by various reasons but the most common amongst them is bad posture. Sitting with a hunch for long hours at work causes tightness and tension in the muscles leading to discomfort and pain. Some other common reasons are holding cell phones to your ear for a long period or carrying one strap bags.

Treatment options

Levator Scapulae strains or spasms can be effectively managed with a number of treatment options and physical therapy and exercise therapy techniques.

  • ¬†Electrical stimulation

Current is applied to the levator scapula muscle of medium frequency to tire and sedate the muscle causing a relaxing effect on it.

  • ¬†Massage

Therapists perform a myofascial massage to soften and break adhesions caused in the muscles. The maneuvers are aimed at elongating the levator scapulae in order to achieve complete relaxation.

  • ¬†Ultrasound

Pulsed ultrasound performed using a sedative anti-inflammatory gel which is applied to the injured levator scapula.

  • Chiropractic

Chiropractic adjustments are performed anterior to posterior, lateral to medial, or a combination of both and vice-versa, depending on the position (right or left) of the injured muscle. (this must be done by a certified Chiropractor)


  1. Standing Levator Scapula stretch
    This is the most effective exercise for Levator Scapula strain. To perform the exercise, stand up straight with feet place shoulder wide. Now, bend your chin to touch your chest with a slight deflection towards your right. Place your right hand on your head and pull down gently. You will feel a good stretch on the left side of your neck. Hold for 10 seconds and return to the neutral position. Repeat 3-5 times and then switch sides.
  2. Head Rolls
    Head rolls have to be performed in two ways, 1) side to side from left to right and 2) in a circular motion, clockwise as well as counterclockwise.
  3. Feline stretch
    To perform this exercise you will have to kneel down on all fours with your hands and knees in a relaxed position. Now, raise your back upwards like a cat, hold it for 5 seconds, and return to the neutral position. Repeat 5 times in 3 sets.

Levator scapulae strains are also accompanied by problems such as depression, anxiety, and fatigue. So, if your neck has been hurting for a while, book an appointment with a physiotherapist soon. InHome has a team of physical therapists that can provide therapy right in your own home.