Your pain pattern,
What aggravates it,
How to get relief,
How People Describe This Pain Pattern
People come in and trace around their brow 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.
The trigger points in this muscle do more than create pain. They 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.”
Those areas of pain behind the ear and at the top of the head are less common but can be the primary complaint. The one on the top of the head is more commonly caused by this muscle.
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 Polyvagal Nervous System and the ability to stay calm is strongly influenced by tension in this muscle.
How You Activate and Intensify This Pain Pattern
This trigger point is most commonly activated when you lean back in a chair or on the couch and pull your head forward and turned to one side.
Sitting up in bed and reading the book that is held to one side strains this muscle too. 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 are landed back in a chair with their head pulled forward and turned to look at the phone in their hand. Others report leaning 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. Many people with this headache sleep face down with their head turned to one side.
This muscle is one of the many muscles that also gets strained in whiplash.
The Musculoskeletal Anatomy Behind Your Pain
This headache pattern is caused by a trigger point in the sternocleidomastoid muscle in your neck. It is a complex muscle and is associated with a number of other maladies 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 Therapists
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 changing the format of the posts to include more extensive self-care, illustrations, therapist notes, anatomy, and protocols. We’d love your feedback. We are adding posts and converting the old posts as quickly as time permits.
Weekly Featured Post
This post covers the basics of Ice-and-Stretch, a toll that is used extensively in these posts combined with Active Isolated Stretching and Yoga poses.
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