The latissimus dorsi muscle is the largest in the body and is up to 20-40 cm. The main functions of this muscle are:
- Helping to extend, move, and rotate the shoulder joint
- Helping to keep the spine straight
- Bringing the shoulder girdle down
- Assisting with arching (bending) the spine
- Assisting in sideways bending
- Contributing to movements, such as rowing, some swimming strokes, and handling an ax
- Contracting to push the air in the lungs out during coughing
Although the latissimus dorsi is the largest muscle, it isn’t the strongest, and humans can survive without this muscle. Hence, the physicians use this muscle during surgery:
- To cover large wounds.
- To substitute lost tissue in reconstructive surgery.
Studies have shown that most people can survive without this muscle and continue their daily activities without any issue.
What is a latissimus dorsi muscle?
The latissimus dorsi muscle, also known as lats, is a flat, wing-like muscle that originates from the lower part of the back. It is located in the mid-back. The lats originate along the seventh thoracic vertebra (T7) of the spine and extend to the humerus. The muscle also covers the tip of the shoulder blade (scapula).
The lats cover the width of the back and mainly control the movement of the shoulder. It is located superficially and clearly visible when the skin is removed.
What are the most common conditions associated with weak latissimus dorsi muscle?
A weak lats muscle may interfere with:
- Moving your arm toward your body or away from the body.
- Your ability to rotate the trunk.
Tight or short lats can interfere with:
- Moving your arm up in front of you or out to the side.
- Lower back pain.
Injury or damage to lats muscle can lead to:
- Lower back pain
- Mid to upper back pain
- Shoulder pain
- Arm pain extending to your fingers
You may experience lats muscle pain:
- Anywhere in the back
- Behind the shoulders
- Under the shoulder blades
- Even down to fingertips
To identify whether the pain is due to lats muscle injury, you should check:
- If the discomfort increases when you lift the arms over the head or you are throwing something.
- Stretching the arms forward at shoulder height.
How to prevent latissimus dorsi muscle injury?
You can avoid lats muscle injury by taking few preventive steps:
- Maintain an upright posture and refrain from stooping.
- Remain hydrated throughout the day, especially before and after exercising.
- Get an occasional massage to relax any stiffness in your back and shoulders.
- Make sure you properly stretch and warm-up before exercising or playing sports.
- Apply a heating pad before working out.
- Try relaxing exercises after a workout.
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National Association of Myofascial Trigger Point Therapists. Symptoms Checker: Latissimus Dorsi. https://check.myofascialtherapy.org/symptomcheck/symptom_upper_latissimus.html
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Common Medical Abbreviations & Terms
Doctors, pharmacists, and other health-care professionals use abbreviations, acronyms, and other terminology for instructions and information in regard to a patient's health condition, prescription drugs they are to take, or medical procedures that have been ordered. There is no approved this list of common medical abbreviations, acronyms, and terminology used by doctors and other health- care professionals. You can use this list of medical abbreviations and acronyms written by our doctors the next time you can't understand what is on your prescription package, blood test results, or medical procedure orders. Examples include:
- ANED: Alive no evidence of disease. The patient arrived in the ER alive with no evidence of disease.
- ARF: Acute renal (kidney) failure
- cap: Capsule.
- CPAP: Continuous positive airway pressure. A treatment for sleep apnea.
- DJD: Degenerative joint disease. Another term for osteoarthritis.
- DM: Diabetes mellitus. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes
- HA: Headache
- IBD: Inflammatory bowel disease. A name for two disorders of the gastrointestinal (BI) tract, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis
- JT: Joint
- N/V: Nausea or vomiting.
- p.o.: By mouth. From the Latin terminology per os.
- q.i.d.: Four times daily. As in taking a medicine four times daily.
- RA: Rheumatoid arthritis
- SOB: Shortness of breath.
- T: Temperature. Temperature is recorded as part of the physical examination. It is one of the "vital signs."
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