Your Pain Pattern,
What Aggravates It,
The Underlying Anatomy
How to Get relief,
Want to skip ahead?
Here’s a link to my post about
getting relief on your own.
How People Describe This Pain Pattern
People with this referral pattern and complain of headaches and pain at the base of the head. Several trigger points create pain in this area. Trigger point assessment does a great job of connecting the problem to the muscle with NMT assessment. I ask my clients to be specific about where the pain is. Also, I ask about when it is the most aggravated.
They often tell me that they’ve had an earache, or tension in their ear, or ringing in the ear or buzzing. At any rate, the client almost always has some aggravation in the ear.
About That Sore Throat
By the way, they rarely tell me about the sore throat. No one wants their massage therapist to cancel the session because the client might be contagious. But, when I mention the sore throat, they sometimes admit that it has been bothering them and say that it is probably allergies.
Trigger points create more than pain. They also create parasympathetic phenomena like sinus congestion, fibrocystic nodules, and sore throat.
How You Activate and Intensify This Pain Pattern
Because the atlas is heavily involved in tilting the head in a “yes” nod, you’d think this was caused mainly by the strain or repetition while tilting your head. Usually, that tilting happens with a twist, which bumps that atlas more to one side.
This sort of twist in the head and neck can create this problem. Birdwatching, painting trim, and leaning the chin on your hand while watching a monitor off to your side all create the proper twist to aggravate this problem.
The Musculoskeletal Anatomy Behind Your Pain
These muscles that strap the head onto the upper neck create this pain pattern. The ones on the front of the spine are more difficult to treat. For more, look at this post on the anatomy of suboccipital muscles.
Here’s the thing
Other trigger points usually cause pain at the base of the head with an earache. You could check out the posts for ear pain, throat pain, and upper neck pain and probably should. Just in case you don’t want to, I’ve included some extra help in the self-care post. The extra TMJ stretches usually offer relief from trigger point referral to the ear.
Getting Relief on Your Own
This post has strategies for getting relief on your own. Explore how to change your activities, stretch and other strategies that relieve the pain associated with this trigger point.
So, I’ve included a little extra in this post to cover some of the other trigger points that create referrals in these areas.
Treatment Notes for Therapists
Through Shared Expertise
This post has techniques, tips, treatment routines, and anatomy illustrations to improve the bodyworker’s approach.
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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 significant changes. We are reformatting and expanding the posts to make them 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 inconsistencies in formatting, content presentation, and readability. Until we get older posts updated, please excuse our mess.