One of the most common causes of neck pain and headaches that I see in the clinic is poor neck posture. This posture presents itself as a neck forward head up posture. The neck is usually rounded forward and down but the head has to be tilted up in order to see what’s in front of you. This posture will cause all types of imbalances with a combination of strained and contracted muscles. This can lead to not only a stiff achy neck, but also headache pain as well. Trigger points often develop in muscles subjected to this type of chronic strain. These points will cause pain, refered pain, stiffness, and weakness. These points will also mimick numerous other symptoms. Trigger points are difficult to deal with as rest and stretching usually aren’t enough to treat them. Trigger point massage therapy is one of the proven methods of treating trigger points.
The Splenius capitis muscle is located in the back or the neck. It originates on the ligamentum nuchae and the spinous processes of C7 to T6. It attaches to the occipital bone and the mastoid process of the temporal bone. This muscle functions bilaterally to produce neck extension, and unilaterally to produce rotation of the head to the same side. When trigger points develop in this muscle they will produce restriction in neck movement, as well as pain felt in the neck, but also strongly in the top of the head. Trigger points in this muscle are a common cause of headaches.
The Trapezius muscle is a large diamond shaped muscle located in the back and neck. It is responsible for for a number of shoulder and neck movements and helps maintain proper posture. This muscle is probably the most common muscle that I work on in the clinic. It is frequently strained and develops trigger points easily. The trigger points in the upper portion of this muscle are the most common to be found in the body. Trigger points will refer pain into the upper back, neck, shoulder, and even into the head and temple causing headaches. Chronic trigger points in this muscle are also a frequent cause of a stiff neck.