Quick Self-Tests to Tell if You have Trigger Points in Your Scalenes:
Follow the instructions below to test whether myfoscial trigger points in your Scalenes might be causing your hand and arm symptoms.
TEST 1: Scalene Finger Flexion
While seated or standing, raise your arm to 90 degrees with your elbow also bent to 90 degrees (as shown). Fold your fingers down so that the pads of your fingers touch your hand. Make sure the wrist and fingers are straight. A Passing result is if all the fingers touch the hand.
A Not Passing result is if one or more fingers cannot reach the hand (keeping wrist and fingers straight), indicating trigger points in the Scalenes.
TEST 2: Lateral Flexion
PASS NOT PASSING
Standing or sitting upright, tilt your head to the side (lateral flexion) as far as you are able without straining or causing pain. Do not elevate the shoulder while performing this test. A Passing result is when the head tilts to the side without pain far enough so that the ear is almost touching the shoulder (over 45 degrees of lateral flexion, as shown). A Not Passing result occurs when the head is unable to tilt at least 45 degrees or there is pain on lateral flexion.
TEST 3: Scalene Palpation
As always, palpation (the medical term for pressing, feeling and squeezing to evaluate body tissue) is often the most effective test to identify myofascial trigger points in your Scalene muscle group.
The Scalenes can be palpated on the sides of the neck, in the space just in front of the bony vertebra and just behind the thick SCM muscle. Press two fingers into this space and feel for tender points and taut bands of muscle tissue. Press gently to tolerance. Start at the base of the neck near your collar bone and proceed up to just below the ear, as indicated by the green line.
Simple Self-Care Remedies
Here are simple self-care tips for relieving myofascial pain and dysfunction in your Scalenes:
Step 1: Warming Up with Moist Heat
To relax and warm up the fibers of the Scalenes, take a warm bath or place moist heat such as a Fomentek bag over the front and sides of your neck for 10-15 minutes.
Step 2: Compression
We prefer the Jacknobber to perform compression on the Scalenes, or finger tips can work, also.
Positioning your self-care tool as shown, cover the entire length of the Scalenes, looking for taut bands and tender spots. When you find a tender spot, press into the muscle to pain tolerance (“good pain” – not pain that is sharp or makes you want to withdraw). Hold for 10 seconds while completing at least two full breaths in and out. Then continue searching for more tender spots until the entire Scalenes muscle group is covered.
Step 3: Stretching the Scalenes
The best stretch for the Scalenes is similar to the Lateral Flexion test we just performed above, only with 2 added steps.
Using a stretching strap or jump rope, step on one section of the rope and hold the other end with your hand so that the rope is taut (as Shown). You should feel a gentle pull on your shoulder down toward the floor.
Now, tilt your head toward the opposite shoulder, as you did in the Lateral Flexion test. Gently rest your opposite hand on the top of your head and stretch gently down toward the shoulder a little further. Hold this stretch for 20 seconds to tolerance. Repeat 3 times and alternate to the other side.
Perpetuating Factors: Two main perpetuating factors that cause trigger points to return in the Scalenes are Morton’s Foot and Paradoxical Breathing. We have covered Morton’s Foot in several issues due to it’s importance – please review by clicking here. We will be covering Paradoxical Breathing in upcoming issues, so keep up your reading … and your self-care, of course!