Your Pain Pattern,
What Aggravates It,
The Underlying Anatomy
How to Get Relief,
How People Describe This Pain Pattern
People trace around their eyebrow with their fingers and say, “I have a headache right here.” When I ask, they sometimes describe the pain behind the ear and might talk about the pain on top of their head. Once in a great while, this muscle only creates the spot on top of the head. That headache is more likely to be from the trigger point in this muscle. The headache around the eyebrow is almost always the focus, even with other symptoms.
Those areas of pain behind the ear is less common but can be the primary complaint or in combination with the headache around the brow.
Other indicators of this trigger point
This trigger point does more than create pain. In addition, it may irritate your ears, vision, and sinuses. Those are clues for your neuromuscular therapist too. People often report blurred vision, ringing in the ears, and “sinus headache.”
See the little pain area under the jaw? In a statistically significant number of cases, this trigger point makes that sharp pain when you swallow. Bet you didn’t think of that as a muscle problem. Try the stretches in the Self-Care section and see if the sharp pain in the throat goes away.
This muscle is in a sheath with the vagus nerve and has a strong influence on mood and some internal organ responses. The tension in this muscle has a strong effect on the Polyvagal Nervous System. Because of this, ice and stretch of this muscle can be quite calming, especially with social anxiety.
How You Activate and Intensify This Pain Pattern
When you lean back, pull your head forward, and look to one side it can activate this headache around the eyebrow. Consequently, this is one of the most common neck problems that I treat. For example, sitting up in bed and reading while the book that is held to one side strains this muscle. Marilyn is in the position to create a show-stopping headache. It is even worse without the supporting pillow.
I see this position more commonly with people that lean back in a chair with their head pulled forward and turned to look at the phone in their hand. Still, others report that they lean back on the couch with their head pulled forward and turned to watch TV.
You might also activate this by sleeping with your head sharply turned to one side. I find that many people with this headache sleep face down with their heads turned and laid flatly on the mattress or a thin pillow.
Also, this muscle is one of the common muscles that gets strained in whiplash.
Knock Out the Supporting Muscles
This muscle contributes to Forward-Head posture. It becomes short and strong. Once the head has become imbalanced over the trunk, this muscle is supported to become shorter and stronger.
The Musculoskeletal Anatomy Behind Your Pain
Start by Understanding the Anatomy.
About the coloring of the illustrations…
The sternocleidomastoid has a complex structure that impacts a number of joints and nerves. Accordingly, it is associated with a number of disorders like anxiety, sinus problems, tinnitus, and blurred vision.
Getting Relief on Your Own
That’s Clinically Proven.
This post has strategies for getting relief on your own. Explore how to change your activities, stretch, ice, and more to relieve the pain associated with this trigger point.
Treatment Notes for Massage and Bodywork
Through Shared Expertise.
This post has techniques, tips, treatment routines, and anatomy illustrations to improve the bodyworker’s approach.
This site is undergoing changes. Starting in early 2020, we began improving the format. We are also adding more extensive self-care, illustrations, therapist notes, anatomy, and protocols. We appreciate your input and feedback. You will see us adding posts and updating older posts as time permits.
Weekly Featured Post
This post shows you how to press out the trigger points and stretch the infraspinatus muscle. It’s a small muscle on the back of the shoulder but creates a number of problems, including:
- shoulder pain when sleeping
- loss of grip strength
- upper neck pain
- pain along the inside edge of the shoulder blade
Tony Preston has a practice in Atlanta, Georgia where he sees clients. He has written and taught about anatomy, trigger points, and cranial therapies since the mid-90s.
*This site is undergoing major changes. We are reformatting and expanding the posts to make it easier to read. The result will also be more accessible and
will include more patterns with better self-care. In the meanwhile, there may be inconsistency in formatting, content presentation, and readability. Until we get older posts updated, please excuse our mess.