I have just started “listening in” to the comments coming through from all those suffering with shoulder arm and hand discomfort. Try these two ideas.
Simple DIY Pillow Change
First of all discard your ordinary pillow or “pillows”. Instead use a rolled up towel placed in the curve of the neck and either a small flat pillow behind the head or nothing at all. This restores the natural curve to the spine and relieves any pressure on muscle, ligaments and nerves. Tie up the towel so that it doesn’t unravel. Don’t expect this to be comfortable for the first week or so, persistence may produce results. Some frozen peas rolled up in the same fashion and covered with a tea towel will relieve any swelling. Only use the cold pack for 10 minutes with at least 15-20 minute intervals. It’s not a good idea to sleep on the peas or eat them for dinner.
Subscapularis Trigger Point
The next thing to try is to push into the muscles on the underside of the scapula or shoulder blade. You do this by placing the thumb into the arm pit while wrapping the fingers around the outside edge of the shoulder blade, i.e. under the arm. Now push the thumb up and back into the arm pit as if you are trying to force it through the shoulder blade. It can smart a bit. Hold the pressure for 20 seconds on the various sore spots you find. Try to think of it as good pain. It will slowly ebb away as you continue to press. These points may create the same symptoms you feel in the arm and hands; you are now on the culprit spots. You cannot do damage to the muscle. The pressure merely releases backed up blood supply and by products of muscle contraction. Like exercise, it will take a little practice and daily workouts to get things underway. Putting a rolled towel behind the neck will help ease the tightness.
The subscapularis muscle is the one that helps to pin the shoulder to the chest. It stabilises all shoulder activities and so is used a lot with sitting activities. The characteristic drooped shoulders created through poor posture put a great strain on the muscle. Correct the posture by tilting the pelvis as if arching your back when seated. Support the pelvis not the lumbar spine. My name is Greg Lees and I am a chiropractor working in Durham, England. Unfortunately we seem to be getting a lot of hard sell from US chiropractors through the system. The products may work however clinically I find that the activities above create good results. Some neck and upper back manipulation is advised but may not be immediately necessary for pain control.
Comment: Subscapularis is definitely a wicked trigger point for most people. For more information, see the Bonnie Prudden book recommended in a recent message – discusses this and many other trigger points, as well as stretching and what makes trigger points happen. It is probably the single most useful treatment book for RSI, IMO.