Repetitive Strain Injury/scapula pain


      First of all i'd like to thank you in advance for answering my question. I have been experiencing a pain in the back of my scapula which i believe is nerve related. I was using our lawn tractor and though I had no pain then, i notice that if I abduction my left arm in a circular motion similar to steering to the right, I feel the pain worsen. I believe that my ring and pinky are slightly numb but it is hard to tell since typing is also making my inner elbow hurt. My first guess would be ulnar nerve but i don't understand why the dorsal scapula ( pain is either teres minor or infraspinatus area) is hurting. BTW typing even this feels horrible.

Hi Rick,

It sounds like you've done some research on the muscles, or you know your muscles for some other reason, so I'm going to write from that level of understanding. It's possible that your pectoralis minor is pulling down on the coracoid process and putting pressure on your ulnar nerve. It would make sense since the pecs minor brings your arm forward so you can drive or type, and when I did the movement you mentioned, my pecs minor was contracting. The pain referral for pecs minor is consistent with your description.  

While you didn't say you hold your head forward, I wouldn't be surprised to find that your brachial plexus (nerve bundle at the base of your anterior neck) is being impinged by your scalenes. The pain and numbness you describe is also consistent with spasms in the anterior scalenes.

If you go to you can read more about each of the muscles and why they cause pain and numbness.  You can self-treat each of these muscles easily, just be careful when you treat your scalenes to not press on your carotid artery.  If you feel a pulse under your fingertips, move about 1/2" and you'll be fine.

Wishing you well,
  Julie Donnelly

Repetitive Strain Injury

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Julie Donnelly, LMT


I can accept questions that relate to chronic or acute pain caused by muscle spasms and contractions. Repetitive Strain Injury is actually Cumulative Trauma to muscles. Releasing the spasm &/or contraction will relieve the strain that is felt at the insertion point on the bone. I am the co-developer of the unique safe-stretching program "Focused Flexibility Training," which combines easy instruction for self-treating spasms throughout your body with proven yoga stretches. I have recently authored two new books: "The 15 Minute Back Pain Solution," and "The Secret to Your Best Golf Game EVER!


Since 1989 I have been working with endurance athletes and individuals suffering from chronic pain conditions. I have authored seven self-treatment books and three self-treatment DVDs and I have developed the Julstro System for the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome, Trigger Finger, and other Hand/Wrist pain. I am a national and international presenter at conventions, seminars, and workshops. Principle topics are "Work Shouldn't Hurt," and "The Pain Free Athlete." In 2005 and 2006 I was the massage therapist for ultracyclists competing in the Race Across America (RAAM) 3000+ mile race from San Diego, CA to Atlantic City, NJ. I've taught the Julstro techniques to physical therapists at the Cleveland Clinic, to massage therapists in areas around the USA, and I've taught Julstro self-treatment clinics to dancers at Juilliard School of Performing Arts (NYC),the sprinting team at NC State, and I am working closely with several Olympic-hopeful. We have successfully eliminated the repetitive strain injuries that could keep them out of the Olympic Games, and the best part is they know how to do the self-treatments so they can stay pain-free and flexible.

Triathlete Magazine, Endurance Magazine, multiple national and international trade journals.

Swedish Institute of Allied Health, NY, NY - Initial education in massage therapy Licensed NYS Massage Therapist since 1989. SUNY Empire State College, Saratoga Springs, NY - B.Sc. degree in Interdisciplinary Health Education I was an Associate Professor helping to develop the massage training program for SUNY Rockland Community College

Past/Present Clients
Privacy prevents me from filling in this section without prior consent from my clients. Life Experience: I have been specializing in the treatment of chronic pain and sports injuries since receiving my NY massage license in 1989. A personal bout with carpal tunnel syndrome was the catalyst to my developing a self-treatment that heals the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome quickly and without surgery. My work with endurance athletes was the inspiration to teach people how to self-treat so they could stop pains even during a race or heavy training day. Both of these situations ultimately became the products that are sold on my websites: and I currently treat people in my offices in Sarasota, FL, Cary, NC, or Pearl River, NY

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