This thin, flat muscle connects the ribs to the shoulder blade, and can be difficult to palpate, as it is under the Pectoralis major
The Pectoralis minor pulls down the coracoid process, which pulls the shoulder blade forward and down whenever you push, punch, or raise your arm out to the side (abduction) and return it to the starting position (adduction).
Trigger points in the pectoralis minor have a distinct pattern
Tightness in this muscle causes problems when your arm is at shoulder level and you try to reach backward or forward, or forward and up.
Pain at the end of the ROM and restricted ROM are ways this muscle lets you know it’s in trouble. Compensations in this muscle are common causes of thoracic tunnel syndrome, CTS, and frozen shoulder. Blood vessel entrapment by TrPs in this muscle may contribute to some cases of Raynaud’s phenomenon.
Weakness of the lower trapezius may cause trigger points in the pectoralis minor; these trigger points can entrap nerves and blood vessels.
Trigger points in the scalene, pectoralis minor, and subclavius muscles can cause true TOS.
The last three fingers, or even the whole hand and arm, can become numb or tingly, especially if you are working hunched over, or lying on that side.
Those areas may become cold and stiff after working on the computer for some time. The radial pulse can disappear because of arterial entrapment when the arm is raised into certain positions.
Trigger points in this muscle may cause cardiac arrhythmia, and the referral pattern may be mistaken for angina or heart attack.
A well-aimed stretch and spray often eliminates symptoms immediately if they are trigger points related.
When in doubt, check it out! If hot, prickling jabs of pain are being referred to the pectoralis area, check for scar tissue trigger points in the coracoid attachment area.
Failure to recognize trigger points in this area may needlessly have ended many an athlete’s career, and caused disability in others.
Paradoxical (shallow) breathing, head-forward posture, poorly fitted or overly heavy backpacks, heart conditions, using poles to pull yourself along when hiking or skiing, or prolonged use of crutches can perpetuate these trigger points, as can nursing an infant, prolonged cuddling of a child or pet in a hunched- over posture, carrying a heavy child, gardening, or sleeping curled up on the side with the lower shoulder forced forward.
Hints for Control
Check breathing and posture, and correct your workstation ergonomics.
Check the pectoralis major, scalenes, SCM, and muscles in other areas for related trigger points.
Even if “cardiac” symptoms provoked by these trigger points are temporarily eliminated by trigger point therapy, if something is perpetuating them, an investigation of possible visceral initiators or any other more serious causes is a must.
Trigger Point Therapy Diploma Course
Clinical Reasoning and Assessment for Manual Therapists
This trigger point therapy blog is intended to be used for information purposes only and is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or to substitute for a medical diagnosis and/or treatment rendered or prescribed by a physician or competent healthcare professional. This information is designed as educational material, but should not be taken as a recommendation for treatment of any particular person or patient. Always consult your physician if you think you need treatment or if you feel unwell.
Share this post