The Sternocleidomastoid(SCM) muscle is a big “juicy” muscle at the front of the neck. Sterno refers to the sternum, or breast bone. Cleido refers to the clavicle, or collar bone. Mastoid is the mastoid process, a knobbly bone behind the ear. These are all the areas that the muscle attaches to. Many of use suffer with pain in the back of the neck, so why are we concentrating on this muscle in the front? The SCM is actually the culprit for an incredible amount of pain but it shows up in lots of different areas.
We are going to cover some of the symptoms created by trigger points in the SCM, referral pain, causes and some treatment techniques to help ease some of the symptoms.
This is a picture of a real SCM. Now can you find yours?
Here is an anatomical drawing of the SCM.
Symptoms of SCM trigger points are widespread and can often be over looked, just dealing with the symptoms, not the cause.
Common Symptoms include:
- Tension headache,
- Muscles sore to touch,
- Persistent, dry, tickly cough,
- Partial paralysis of trapezius muscle if the SCM traps the cranial nerve XI.
- Pain refers to top of the head, back of the head, cheek and over the top or behind the eye,
- Sinus congestion on affected side, chronic sore throat from referred pain rather than infection,
- Weeping and reddening of the eye, blurred vision, drooping or twitching of the eyelid,
- One-sided deafness or crackling in the ear.
- Headaches across the whole forehead,
- Deep ear pain,
- Pain in the cheek and molar teeth,
- Referred eye and sinus symptoms,
- Dizziness and disturbed balance/vertigo,
- Seasickness or car sickness,
- Nausea and loss of appetite.
Referral Pain Pattern of the Sternocleidomastoid (SCM)
Perpetuating causes of trigger points include:
- Stress to the SCM, as in lots of overhead activities eg. Painting a ceiling, looking up for long periods of time, swimming strokes, horse riding and handling and wearing a necktie too tight,
- Poor posture, forward head posture, poor ergonomics, using a computer especially a laptop, reading in bed, sleeping with too many pillows, having the head turned to the side or back for long periods of time,
- Injuries or sudden jerks to the head eg. Whiplash,
- Improper breathing and tight pectoralis major muscle,
- Chronic or acute infections eg. Sinusitis or flu and
- Structural problems, keeping balance eg. Scoliosis or leg length discrepancy.
Click on the link below to see a good stretch for the SCM, which can help ease trigger point symptoms. Also regular massage treatments with focus on the front line of the body, pectoralis major and minor, SCM, scalenes and other shoulder girdle and neck muscles will help identify and release trigger points and their symptoms.
Obviously this is an overview of some symptoms that maybe caused by trigger points in the SCM but if you are suffering from any of the above symptoms and you are concerned, then you should always have a check up with your doctor.
Till next time, keep happy and healthy.
H&W Massage Therapy