Fainting when my shoulders are pressed/squeezed
March 4, 2011 5:06 AM   Subscribe

Why do I faint when someone presses on or squeezes the tops of my shoulders (on my trapezius)?

This has happened several times over the past 10-15 years. It usually happens when a person does one strong, sudden movement; for example, giving the tops of my shoulders a hard squeeze (especially if I'm not lying down).

But it has also happened when a person has applied sustained pressure to the area. For example, during a recent chair massage, the therapist was applying a lot of pressure by repeatedly pressing her thumb down onto my trapezius muscles; I was fine while she was doing one shoulder, but after she started on the other, the feeling that I was about to faint came on very suddenly.

It may be worth mentioning that my shoulders are definitely my "problem area" as far as back/shoulder/neck pain goes. The muscles are almost always tight, and require a lot of massaging to loosen up.

I almost always experience a vasovagal syncope when dealing with blood, veins, injections, eye exams, etc. Is this just another example of a vasovagal syncope, or is there a more specific reason that pressure on that specific area would make me faint?
posted by neushoorn to Health & Fitness (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
IANAD, natch. But could this be something to do with pressure points? I think there are points in arteries which can cause the brain to register severe blood pressure drops when pressured. Kind of like the vulcan nerve pinch. But I thought it was a myth that you could actually trigger them.
posted by londonmark at 5:23 AM on March 4, 2011

I was going to say that it sounded like a vasovagal response before I saw that you mentioned it. Since you're already known to be susceptible, sounds like the most logical answer to me.
posted by valkyryn at 6:00 AM on March 4, 2011

The vulcan nerve pinch offers some interesting reading on subclavian nerves as a possible mode of action..
posted by k5.user at 7:41 AM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

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