One of the most common causes of a stiff neck are trigger points in the levator scapulae muscle. This muscle runs up the side of the neck from the top of the shoulder blade. It helps to shrug the shoulders and move and stabilize the neck. When trigger points form in this muscle they will produce pain and stiffness in the neck. Deep tissue trigger point massage applied to these knots is an effective treatment method.
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 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 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.