What’s so Humerus, Choracobrachialis?

The corachobrachialis is one of the muscles that make up the shoulder joint and is one of three muscles to attach to the coracoid process of the scapula. Its fellow neighbors are biceps brachii and pectoralis minor. Without the coracoid process you would have no movement of the shoulder. 

Coracobrachialis is located on the anterior, upper and medial part of the arm. It attaches at the scapula (aka shoulder blade) and inserts into the humerus bone. This muscle is easy to overlook as it is smaller and its name doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue! I like to refer to this muscle as the underdog of the shoulder; its role in motion, no small thing. 

The work you put your coracobrachialis through every day can be as common as driving a vehicle, taking a selfie, and going to the bathroom. Just as mundane as that all can be it also gives us the graceful controlled movements of dance, swimming, and yoga. In addition to movement it stabilizes the joint itself.

Nestled between the biceps and triceps, it is comparable to the index finger in size and twice as long. The pain from coracobrachialis trigger points are felt in front of the arm along the deltoid, triceps, back of the forearm and hand. The more severe trigger points that have become worse over time can even cause pain to radiate as far as the middle finger. Prior to starting my career as an independent LMT in a rural farming/agricultural community, instructors at school prepared the students for working with the easiest to identify and palpate muscles related to shoulder pain. These muscles include trapezius, infra and supraspinatus, biceps, deltoid, to name a few.

I feel that after my first year of clients I wasn’t fully prepared to anticipate the threshold of pain most in the community suffer from silently on a daily basis. Oftentimes I’m not seeing clients with a ‘minor’ trigger point when they come presenting with shoulder/arm pain. I’m seeing clients that had to fight with their insurance companies, worker’s comp representatives, and their own prejudices against massage therapy as a legitimate treatment and justifiable expense. 

Overcoming social and economical barriers is just one part of the big picture! I grew up here and know that as kids we mostly learned how to deal with the pain. After falling off my bike a typical scenario would go like this. 

Dad: “You bleeding?” 

Me: “Yeah.”

Dad: “See any bones sticking out?”

Me: “no…”

Dad: “Alright then.”

At this point I would hobble self-pityingly to the bathroom to clean my scrapes, find a band-aid and call it good. I had a safe and loving environment growing up but the kids being raised in the 90’s by parents who had their own childhood in the 1960-80s compared us to when they themselves started working by middle school and would reset their own dislocated shoulder and didn’t have TV, music videos or CDs to entertain themselves. No, they went cow-tipping! Okay I’m getting off topic now. What I’m trying to convey here, is that small town people, prefer to take care of themselves or at least try to as much as they can to avoid having to see a doctor. When I see clients with shoulder pain/injuries I’m seeing a disproportionate amount of issues with the corachobrachialis. 

The type of work a person does contributes to the type of muscle pain they could have. Here, most people in manual labor work with their bodies until they can’t. In the case of baby boomers and those who have been under Medicare, their younger days are catching up to them. The older generations who seek massage are the result of old football injuries, war wounds, years of working on your feet all day, fractures and old accidents, or going through joint and bone deterioration. 

In small farming communities some examples of activities that can strain the coracobrachialis are riding horseback, operating heavy equipment, lifting heavy bags of feed, or hay bales. Anything that requires repetitively pulling downward. The muscle is located by a bundle of nerves so sometimes if you’re feeling numbness, tingling, or burning sensations that radiate down your arm when you perform adduction/flexion of the arm, it could be a nerve impingement. Gentle range of motion combined with massage focused on the anterior arm muscles may help with this. In the near future, I’ll be sure to write an article on how massage can improve pain caused by common rotator cuff injuries and the differences in tendinitis, arthritis, and bursitis. 

  1. forming names of inflammatory diseases.


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