Trigger points are contracted knots of muscle tissue that form in any muscle as a result of overload stress. Trigger points cause pain, referred pain, stiffness and weakness. Trigger points that form in the muscles of the neck and head often refer pain into the head and face. This is one of the most common causes of headache pain. Trigger point massage is an effective way to treat trigger points.
The sternocleidomastoid muscle is a thin strap like muscle located on both sides of the front of the neck. It helps with movement and posture of the head and neck. This muscle often becomes shortened and tight in people with poor head forward posture. As a result trigger points can form, and these points can cause pain to refer into the skull, and face around the eye. Trigger points in this muscle can also refer into the inner ear.
The levator scapulae muscle is a thin strap like muscle in your neck. It helps to shrug the shoulders and to side flex the neck. This muscle often becomes over worked when the head is tilted forward, or the shoulders are in an elevated position for prolonged periods of time. When strained trigger points develop. These points will refer pain into the neck and shoulder blade area. Trigger points in the levator scapulae are a main cause of a stiff neck.
The suboccipital muscles are small muscles at the base of the skull. These muscles often get strained by poor neck and head posture. Chronic strain will cause trigger points to form. Trigger points in the suboccipital muscles are major cause of headache pain. These points refer an achy pain deep into the skull being that eye and into the temple.
The trapezius muscle is a large diamond shaped muscle in your back and neck. It helps with shoulder and neck movements. This muscle is often over worked due to poor posture, such as sitting in front of a computer. This muscle is also a common ” stress” muscle where people have their shoulders hunched up to their ears. As a result trigger points in the upper traps are very common. These points refer pain into the temple and behind the ear. Upper trap trigger points are a common cause or headaches.
One of the most common things I treat in my practice is myofascial trigger points in the neck muscles. More often than not these points have been caused to develop due to poor neck and shoulder posture. You know the posture, head forward, shoulders rounded, spine curved. Anyone that has had to sit in front of a computer all day, or in car for a long period of time, or spends a lot of time on their phone has experienced this type of posture. The muscles that are responsible for holding your neck up, and your shoulders back, become fatigued over time causing a chronic overload stress. When this happens trigger points can be formed in the muscle tissue. Trigger points are areas of the muscle that have been jammed in the “on” position. They are Almost like a micro cramp within the muscle. These points are hyper sensitive and cause pain, referred pain, stiffness, and weakness among other symptoms. Trigger points in the neck muscles not only cause neck pain, but also refer pain into the head and face, mimicking headache and migraine type pain.