Deltoid Muscle Pain And Trigger Points

The deltoid muscle is one of the troubleshooters when it comes to shoulder pain. It also may be responsible for your impingement syndrome.

This muscle builds the top layer of your shoulder joint. If you are a well-trained person it may give you a beautiful shaped shoulder. But if you overwork your shoulders, there is a good chance that it will trouble you.


Pain Zone

Attachment Points



Impaired Movements



Deltoid Pain Zones

As you can see in the pictures below, pain created by trigger points in the deltoid muscle is mainly felt in your arm and shoulder.

Here, pain will arise in the vicinity of the trigger points. That means, if trigger points are located at the front, side or back part of the muscle, you also will experience pain in the front, side or back part of the muscle and shoulder, respectively.

That information will make it easier for you to find out, where trigger points might be located in your case. Also study the location of the trigger points - X1 to X6 - under attachment points of the muscle. 

The muscle can be involved in the following symptoms:

Note: Do not forget to also check other muscles for trigger points when your shoulder is painful. It is very seldom that trigger points in the deltoids are the primary reason for shoulder pain. More often other shoulder muscles are the main troubleshooters.

Deltoid Attachment Points And Trigger Points

The deltoid can be separated into three regions. A frontal, middle and back division. All three parts fuse together at the outer side of your humerus/upper arm.The origin of the front part is the outer part of your calvicle/collarbone, the middle part comes from your acromion and the back part originates from your spine of scapula.

Deltoid Muscle Function

All together they abduct your shoulder – whereas the middle part is the most active one during this movement –. The frontal part helps to elevate/raise your arm in front of you and the back part participates in the extension of your shoulder.




Deltoid Muscle Overuse And Trigger Point Development

In general, activities or movements that require a forceful, repeated or consistent lifting of your arm, promote an overworked deltoid which in turn may develop tender or trigger points.

Such activities may be

  • Volleyball and tennis serves
  • Rock climbing
  • Prolonged overhead work with tools like a pad sander
  • Weight lifting – e.g. heavy shoulder exercises –

Impaired Or Painful Movements

If you have a very tight deltoid or one that contains tender or trigger points, you may be confronted with some difficulties in your activities of daily living. Combing your hair, reaching to your mouth or lifting your arm may become very painful if trigger or tender points are present.Even a lack of strength in the affected shoulder and arm is a common thing when you have tender or trigger points in this muscle.

Palpation Of The Deltoid

Locating your deltoid muscle and its three compartments is fairly easy as it is the top muscle layer of your shoulder joint. It covers your shoulder from the front over the side to the back.Just place your hand on your shoulder joint and then start the three movements that activate the muscle.

  • raise your arm
  • spread your arm
  • extend your shoulder – bring it backwards – 

I really think you will not have any problems at all to feel the muscle.

Massage The Deltoid Muscle

For massaging the deltoid muscle I recommend using a tennis ball. You will be massaging mainly three different parts. You probably can imagine, those three parts will be exactly the ones that the deltoid muscle consists of.

Place the ball on the part you want to massage. Then push against a wall. In order to find tender or trigger points, start to roll with the ball over the desired area. When you find a tender spot, stay there for a while and work it a couple of times.

As always, use slow and deep strokes for massage.


Calais-German, Blandine. Anatomy of Movement. Seattle: Eastland Press, 1993. Print

Davies, Clair, and Davies, Amber. The Trigger Point Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide For Pain Relief. Oakland: New Harbinger Publications, Inc., 2004. Print

Simons, David G., Lois S. Simons, and Janet G. Travell. Travell & Simons' Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual. Baltimore, MD: Williams & Wilkins, 1999. Print.

Schünke, Michael., Schulte, Erik, and Schumacher, Udo. Prometheus: Lernatlas der Anatomie. Stuttgart/New York: Georg Thieme Verlag, 2007. Print

› Deltoid