Scalenes: Neck Pain, Shoulder Pain, Numbness and Tingling

The Scalenes are a group of muscles that allow or assist in a number of important movements of the neck. Your scalenes are responsible for rotation, lateral flexion (side-bending) and they aid in respiration. How do they aid in respiration? Well, when you inhale these muscles aid in elevating your rib cage. The anterior scalene muscle runs from the first rib to the transverse processes of C3-C6. The middle scalene attaches at the first rib and runs to the transverse processes of C2-C7. The third and last scalene muscle, posterior scalene attaches at the second rib and runs to the transverse processes of C4-C7.

Due to their attachment sites on the cervical vertebra, it is important to have these muscles released periodically if we are to have healthy range of motion in vertebras C2-C7. Proper range of motion in the cervical spine as a whole will help us keep unnecessary pressure off of the spinal chord and spinal nerves in this area and reduce the rate of deterioration in the discs and vertebra.

The subclavian artery and portions of the brachial plexus can become compressed due to shortening and ischemia in the scalenes. This is why they play a role in reducing or resolving issues such as thoracic outlet syndrome, neck pain, headaches, numbness and tingling in the first two fingers and shoulder pain.

People who spend too much time driving or working on a computer may experience loss of range of motion in the scalenes. If you are experiencing neck pain, headaches and shoulder pain your scalenes may need some stretching and a sports massage. It is important to rehabilitate the scalenes and other muscles of the neck to protect the health of the cervical spine, as well as its inhabitants.

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