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The neck is vital in keeping the head upright in a casual relationship with the cervical spine. The neck is home to the thyroid organ and the surrounding muscles that help support the neck to the rest of the body. One of the muscles that help support the neck is the sternocleidomastoid muscle. When traumatic forces begin to affect the neck, over time can lead to the development of chronic conditions associated with pain. When individuals start to feel pain affecting their neck, it can cause them to be miserable and find ways to relieve the pain they are experiencing. Today’s article focuses on the sternocleidomastoid muscle, how trigger pain affects this muscle, and ways to relieve SCM pain. We refer patients to certified providers who specialize in musculoskeletal treatments to aid individuals suffering from SCM associated with trigger pain along the neck. We also guide our patients by referring them to our associated medical providers based on their examination when appropriate. We ensure to find that education is the solution to asking our providers insightful questions. Dr. Jimenez DC observes this information as an educational service only. Disclaimer
What Is The Sternocleidomastoid Muscle?
Have you been experiencing pain along the sides of your neck? What about limited mobility when you turn your neck from side to side? Or do headaches seem to worsen throughout the entire day? Some of these symptoms are associated with pain along the neck and could affect the surrounding muscles that are connected. One of the surrounding muscles that sit behind the thyroid is known as SCM or sternocleidomastoid muscle. The sternocleidomastoid muscle is a long muscle with dual innervation and multiple functions in the neck. The SCM is connected to the trapezius muscle that helps flex the neck, pulling the head forward while bringing the chin down to the chest. The SCM and the trapezius muscle work together to help stabilize and fix the head position while the host is talking or eating. When factors affect the neck over time, the SCM also gets involved.
How Does Trigger Pain Affect The Sternocleidomastoid?
When factors affect SCM associated with the neck, many issues will start to affect the neck and overlap pain near the eyes, ears, sides of the cheeks, and forehead. Studies reveal that SCM may develop myofascial trigger points in the head, causing referred pain. Trigger points are usually formed when traumatic forces affect certain areas in the body. For SCM to be affected by trigger pain, tiny knots along the taut band of the SCM muscle fibers become sensitive to pressure when compressed, and many people often describe the pain as deep and dull. To that point, the symptoms associated with SCM trigger pain may appear in numerous combinations or together depending on how severe the pain is on the person. Some of the symptoms related to SCM trigger pain include:
- Headaches (sinus, cluster, or tension)
- Sore throat
- Ear pain (popping sounds in the ears)
- Blurred vision
- Balance issues
- Muscle soreness
SCM Pain & Trigger Points- Video
Have you been dealing with headaches throughout the entire day? What about muscle tenderness in certain areas near your neck or shoulders? Or have you been feeling dizzy that it is affecting your daily activities? Many people with these symptoms may be dealing with SCM pain associated with trigger pain. The video above offers an insightful overview of how does trigger pain may be involved with SCM pain. SCM or sternocleidomastoid muscle is a long muscle that surrounds the sides of the neck and is connected to the trapezius muscle. When factors begin to affect the SCM, the muscle is at risk of developing trigger pain along the muscle fibers. Studies reveal that trigger pain along the SCM may affect SCM’s normal muscle functions, like chewing due to hyperactivity. Fortunately, there are ways to relieve SCM pain associated with trigger pain affecting the neck.
Ways To Relieve SCM Pain In The Neck
When it comes to SCM pain associated with trigger pain along the neck, many individuals find ways to relieve the related symptoms that are causing the pain. Some individuals will take over-the-counter medication to relieve their neck, shoulders, and head pain. At the same time, others do stretches to release the tension on their head, neck, and shoulders. However, trigger pain is a bit complex and challenging to diagnose since it mimics other conditions that affect the body. As luck would have it, many doctors will refer musculoskeletal specialists like massage therapists, physical therapists, and chiropractors who can help relieve SCM pain in the neck. Studies reveal that a combination of physiotherapy, classical massages, and stretching exercises can be applied to alleviate SCM pain in the neck. By stretching and massaging the SCM, many individuals can begin to feel pain relief in their neck, increase their range of motion, and have endurance in their neck. Integrating these various treatments for the SCM (sternocleidomastoid muscle) pain in the neck can help revitalize a person’s sense of well-being without being in pain.
The SCM, or sternocleidomastoid muscle, is a long muscle that sits behind the thyroid organ and is connected with the trapezius muscle. This muscle helps stabilize and holds the head position while flexing the neck and bringing the chin down to the chest. When environmental or traumatic factors affect the neck muscles, it can lead to chronic conditions over time, thus inflicting pain and tenderness along the SCM. These are known as trigger points and can be hard to diagnose due to them mimicking other chronic symptoms associated with the neck, head, and shoulders. Thankfully, various treatments like physiotherapy, stretching exercises, and classical massages can help relieve the trigger points along the SCM and relieve the neck and surrounding muscles.
Bordoni, Bruno, and Matthew Varacallo. “Anatomy, Head and Neck, Sternocleidomastoid Muscle.” In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL), StatPearls Publishing, 5 Apr. 2022, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK532881/.
Büyükturan, Buket, et al. “The Effects of Combined Sternocleidomastoid Muscle Stretching and Massage on Pain, Disability, Endurance, Kinesiophobia, and Range of Motion in Individuals with Chronic Neck Pain: A Randomized, Single-Blind Study.” Musculoskeletal Science & Practice, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 12 June 2021, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34147954/.
Kohno, S, et al. “Pain in the Sternocleidomastoid Muscle and Occlusal Interferences.” Journal of Oral Rehabilitation, U.S. National Library of Medicine, July 1988, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3171759/.
Missaghi, Babak. “Sternocleidomastoid Syndrome: A Case Study.” The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, Canadian Chiropractic Association, Sept. 2004, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1769463/.
The information herein on "Trigger Pain Affecting The Sternocleidomastoid Muscle" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.
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