Levator Scapulae Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

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  • 0:04 Levator Scapulae
  • 0:41 Levator Scapulae Syndrome
  • 1:34 Symptoms
  • 1:47 Treatment
  • 2:39 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Dan Washmuth

Dan has taught college Nutrition, Anatomy, Physiology, and Sports Nutrition courses and has a master's degree in Dietetics & Nutrition.

Expert Contributor
Christianlly Cena

Christianlly has taught college physics and facilitated laboratory courses. He has a master's degree in Physics and is pursuing his doctorate study.

The levator scapulae is a muscle located in the neck that can often become irritated and inflamed, resulting in levator scapulae syndrome. This lesson will teach you all about this syndrome, including its causes, symptoms, and treatments.

Levator Scapulae

Do you sit down for most of the day? Maybe you have a desk job, or perhaps you're a student who has to sit in long classes. Whatever the reason, if you're sedentary for long periods at a time, you actually have a higher risk for levator scapulae syndrome than someone who is frequently physically active.

The levator scapulae is a muscle that's located at both sides of the back of the neck. This muscle functions to raise or elevate the scapula, shoulder blade, such as when you shrug your shoulders. Levator scapulae syndrome is a condition in which the levator scapulae muscle becomes irritated and inflamed.

Levator Scapulae Syndrome

As we mentioned in the beginning of this lesson, the main cause of levator scapulae syndrome is sitting for long periods at a time, particularly when you sit with poor posture. Sitting for a long stretch of time with poor posture puts a lot of stress and pressure on the various muscles in the neck and back, including the levator scapulae muscle. Over time, this constant stress and pressure can irritate the levator scapulae, inflaming it and causing it to become sore.

Additionally, physical trauma can cause levator scapulae syndrome. Sports collisions, falls, and car accidents can all cause this condition. For example, whiplash during a car accident can damage the muscle, leading to levator scapulae syndrome. Additionally, a football player might get tackled during a game and land awkwardly on his head and neck, causing the levator scapulae muscle to become damaged and eventually resulting in levator scapulae syndrome.


There are several symptoms of levator scapulae syndrome, including:

  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Headaches
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Muscle knots


There are several different treatments for levator scapulae syndrome. First off, if the condition was caused by sitting for long periods of time with poor posture, it's absolutely essential that a person learns how to sit with proper posture. Proper sitting posture includes sitting up straight, making sure the upper back and neck are not hunched over.

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Additional Activities

Writing Prompts on Levator Scapulae Syndrome

Prompt 1

Morgan is a star player of a well-known electronic sports team and is set to compete in a worldwide competition. With the date of the competition fast approaching, Morgan and his team spend more and more time sitting and playing games at their respective personal computers. After a practice game, Morgan suddenly felt a sharp pain on his neck, leading to restricted range of movement. He ignored it and continued his activity, which eventually worsened the situation. Aside from the neck pain, he now has to deal with a severe headache. Does this scenario indicate that Morgan could be experiencing Levator Scapulae Syndrome? Why do you say so? Give a non-surgical first aid solution that Morgan should probably take.

Prompt 2

A basketball team decided to hold a scrimmage. In the final minutes of the scrimmage, the ball was passed to James and he immediately made a shot. The ball went in the hoop and they won the scrimmage. After the game, James experienced a cracking sensation on his shoulder followed by sharp pain. He felt weakness in his shoulder when rotating, flexing, or lifting things. Based on the cause and symptoms, could James be sustaining Levator Scapulae Syndrome? Give a material reason to support your answer.

Medical Disclaimer: The information on this site is for your information only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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