Great question. We first need to assess when the pain started? When did the upper trap pain start?
Was there an accident involved? How do you deal with stress or coping strategies?
Do you stretch the upper traps?
Not all pain is neruological..Most pain that individuals experience is mechanical(soft tissue tightness, muscle, fascial, joint stiffness).
There is also nocioceptive or inflammatory pain which occurs right after an injury that tends to be swollen, warm, etc
Neuropathic pain is sharp, lucid typically involves a nerve that is either being compressed by a disc, or repetitive elongation of the nerve(like tractioning it) creating stress to the mechanoreceptors and nocioceptors(A delta and C fibers)
Lastly there is central sensitization. Which is where the pain is a result of an upregulated nervous systems. Due to someone who has had multiple injuries, or several car accidents, etc. The brain does not understand how to deal with the pain. Then yellow flags such as sadness, anger, stress, depression, fear, fear avoidance, make it worse and the person in a sense bottles up the pain.
This is what I learned while studying abroad in Australia and I truly love helping those with chronic pain. Because there is a nice connection between the nervous system and musculoskeletal system, where we need to figure out as physios, to take a detailed history, clarify severity/irritability of pain, location of pain, and what makes it better, worse with a 24 hr period.
The upper traps when someone is in pain do NOT become lengthened. It is the opposite, they shorten. To protect, to guard and usually trigger points(TrpS) develop in the upper traps, because they are a postural muscle, which tighten over time. An accident or stress with poor posture/ergonomic setup will cause Trps to develop. Which is where the muscle becomes adaptively shortened and in a sense the muscle becomes literally a “tight ball”
Knowing the answers to the prior questions I asked is how we can treat and help you. Or a similar client
The bio-psychosocial model is approaching to help someone holistically. Bio-biology pertaining to the tissues, psycho-is referring to the cognitive state of the individual
social-refers to the coping strategies, social support, family and belief system.
I use this new model and it really does work.
I hope this helps and I look forward to hearing from you..
Chronic pain courses and sessions at IDEA are coming!!!