If this looks familiar to you, then you probably have trigger points. The muscles in your back and neck become strained and overloaded and the muscles in the front become shortened and contracted. When this happens trigger points can develop. These points will cause pain, refered pain, stiffness and weakness. Trigger points in the neck muscles can refer pain into the head and cause headaches.
One of the most common forms of pain I see in my practice is neck and shoulder pain. Many people have jobs that require the muscles of the neck and upper back to work overtime to keep proper neck posture. Sitting in front of a computer all day or being stuck in a car or truck for example will eventually cause these muscles to become strained and develop trigger points. These trigger points will then cause pain, referred pain, stiffness and weakness. Neck and upper back trigger points will refer pain into the neck and head.
The scalenes muscles are located in the neck and help with neck movements and inspiration. The anterior scalene runs directly over the brachial plexus that gives nerve and blood supply to the arm. Poor neck and head posture as well as poor breathing mechanics can cause this muscle to become overloaded and develope trigger points. These points will refer pain into the shoulder, arm, and hand. As well as the shoulder blade. When tight, the anterior scalene muscle can put pressure on the brachial plexus causing numbness and tingling felt in the fingers and hand.
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.
With a whiplash injury the muscles of the neck get overloaded and strained. When this happens trigger points can form in any or all of these muscles. Trigger points in the neck muscles will refer pain into the head and face causing headaches and migraines. These points won’t release with rest, stretching, or rehab exercise. They require a manual technique like trigger point massage for them to resolve.
A whiplash injury can cause a wide variety of symptoms. Myofascial trigger points that form in the muscles of the neck and back as a result of this injury can cause all of these symptoms listed below. For a complete treatment plan for whiplash, trigger points must be released.