Here, you will find relief through self-care for the headache at your temple that often comes with a stiff neck on the same side. This other post describes how people experience and create this trigger point pattern.
This headache at the temple is one of the most common trigger points. There are many ways to activate the headache at the temple with a stiff neck. However, it is more problematic because the trapezius is hard to avoid moving during a typical day. See your bodyworker for relief if the stiff neck or headache is persistent.
A yank on the shoulder creates joint problems, which make this harder to resolve. In addition, a binding or mild separation in the acromioclavicular joint can perpetuate this trigger point activity.
If you sit at a desk with your elbows supported by armrests, this muscle will shorten, and the headache will usually lessen. Unfortunately, when you get up from the desk, this part of the trapezius will stretch as your shoulder drops. The headache will then get worse as the trapezius supports the weight of the shoulder.
These people often develop high, tight shoulders as other muscles tense to take the load off the trapezius.
Chairs with poorly fit armrests get a lot of attention from therapists. Instead, they should deal with the underlying problem. Your goal should be that the trapezius shortens and lengthens comfortably, not that you buy special furniture.
Here’s a post discussing both approaches to working at a home or office desk ergonomics.
If you have a mild shoulder joint problem, the second part of this post that talks about supporting the shoulder will work better.
When the focus of pain is mainly at the temple with tension in your neck, it is unlikely that you would think of massaging just above the collar bone to get rid of the headache. A little ice or heat on the fleshy part of the shoulder just above the collarbone helps to release this trigger point but seldom gives lasting relief to the stiff neck.
A little topical pain relief patch works well for lasting relief. These patches from Salonpas are a great value and effective. Further, patients seem to like the sensation in this spot. These particular patches don’t generate much smell and offer lasting relief through the day when it gets aggravated by movement. Place the patch so that it starts right where her middle finger touches and lay it along that crest of the trapezius that extends up toward the neck. These are available in most grocery and drug stores, or you can get them on Amazon.
By the Way, I get this headache from time to time. I had it about three months ago and didn’t have time to stop and work on it. I used the patch, and it was gone in a few minutes.
Put it on the green star in this illustration.
These self-care activities, like over-the-counter drugs, are not intended to replace appropriate medical attention. If you have concerns about these self-care activities, get help from a professional. Use these suggestions and strategies with discretion and at your own risk. See your doctor when your pain is severe, persistent, or doesn’t respond to these simple suggestions.
If the neck is stiff when moved in almost any direction, more than one muscle is involved. Try this stretching exercise. You can do it several times a day and may get satisfying relief, especially if there are some gentle clicks as you stretch.
This post has one of the most effective and easy exercises to relax and lower your shoulders. It does a great job of releasing this trigger point.
If this exercise makes the shoulder or headache more aggravated and painful, see a professional for help, you may have a mildly separated shoulder.
When headache in the temple is a chronic problem, I suggest a gentle 8-10 minute routine of shoulder exercises three times a week. Five sets with about 1 minute in between. Pick activities that drive the elbow up and back like; shoulder presses, upright rows, seated rows, posterior flyes, etc.
Nothing too heavy. Spend the first 2-3 weeks with a lighter weight to avoid excessive soreness. Don’t have weights? Don’t want to go to the gym? Limited space? Shoulder work is easy to do with exercise tubing.
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The upper trapezius lifts the collar bone and pulls the shoulder back, so twisting poses tend to stretch one side of the trapezius while lengthening the other.
Seated and lunging poses that twist to stretch hip rotators can work well for the upper trapezius. Because the back shoulder is closer to the base of the head and spine, the upper trapezius contracts on that side. The front shoulder drops down and slides around the ribs away from the base of the skull, stretching the upper trapezius on that side.
Sometimes, turning your head is strongly limited by pain. This indicates that more than one of the muscles that creates a “stiff neck” is involved. Check out these posts on a stiff neck.
In this case, if the problem does not resolve with home care, consider professional help from your bodyworker. They will offer quicker relief, have longer-lasting results, and keep you focused on effective self-care.
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Tony Preston has a practice in Atlanta, Georgia, where he sees clients. He has written materials and instructed classes since the mid-90s. This includes anatomy, trigger points, cranial, and neuromuscular.
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*This site is undergoing significant changes. We are reformatting and expanding the posts to make them easier to read. The result will also be more accessible and include more patterns with better self-care. Meanwhile, there may be formatting, content presentation, and readability inconsistencies. Until we get older posts updated, please excuse our mess.
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