Pain In Scm Muscle


Pain In Scm Muscle
What are the common conditions and disorders that affect the SCM muscle? – As with any muscle, injuries, sprains, strains, atrophy (wasting away) and tumors can damage your SCM muscle. Conditions that involve your SCM include:

Sternocleidomastoid syndrome : An acute or chronic (long-term) condition involving neck stiffness, pain and other symptoms. It happens when part of your SCM muscle develops tightened, sensitive areas, or trigger points. The SCM muscle’s size and complexity make it susceptible to strain and injury. As a result, trigger points may develop in multiple places within the muscle. Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD), TMD occurs when the muscles and ligaments that support your TMJ become irritated or injured. While not all TMD is associated with your SCM muscle, problems with your SCM muscle can cause pain associated with TMD. Torticollis (wryneck) : Short, tightened SCM muscles can cause your head to naturally turn or tilt to one side. There are different types of torticollis, but it’s usually present at birth.

What does SCM pain feel like?

Sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscle pain in the neck typically results from muscle tension or performing repeated motions. It can also occur with certain health conditions, such as asthma and pneumonia. The sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscle is located at the base of your skull on either side of your neck, behind your ears. On both sides of your neck, each muscle runs down the front of your neck and splits to attach to the top of your sternum and collarbone. The functions of this long, thick muscle are:

  • rotating your head from side to side
  • turning your neck to bring your ear to your shoulder
  • bending your neck forward to bring your chin to your chest
  • aiding in breathing and respiration

It also helps in chewing and swallowing and stabilizes your head when you drop it backward. SCM pain can have a number of causes that are often related to some type of muscle tension. Tightness in another part of your body can cause referred pain in your SCM. It can also become tight and shortened from repeated activities such as:

  • bending forward to type
  • looking down at your phone
  • turning your head away from center while using a computer

Causes of SCM pain can include chronic health conditions, such as asthma, and acute respiratory infections, such as sinusitis, bronchitis, pneumonia, and the flu. Other causes of SCM pain include:

  • injuries such as whiplash or falls
  • overhead work such as painting, carpentry, or hanging curtains
  • poor posture, especially when your head is forward or turned to the side
  • shallow chest breathing
  • sleeping on your stomach with your head turned to one side
  • sudden movements
  • tight chest muscles
  • tight shirt collar or tie

You can feel SCM pain in a few different ways. Your neck, shoulders, or upper back may be especially sensitive to touch or pressure. You may experience pain in your sinuses, forehead, or near your eyebrows. Dull, aching pain may be accompanied by feelings of tightness or pressure.

  • difficulty holding up your head
  • disorientation
  • dizziness or imbalance
  • muscle fatigue
  • nausea
  • pain in your jaw, neck, or back of your head
  • pain in your ear, cheek, or molars
  • ringing in your ears
  • scalp irritation
  • stiffness
  • tension headache or migraine
  • unexplained tears
  • visual disturbances such as blurred vision or light appearing dimmed

Set aside at least 15 minutes per day to do some type of simple stretches or yoga poses. Here are a few examples to get you started:

How do you relieve SCM pain?

Pain behind the ear and down the neck and shoulder may result from tension or injury in the sternocleidomastoid muscle. Other possible symptoms include headaches, dizziness, and tingling. The sternocleidomastoid is a large muscle near the front of the neck.

It extends from just under the ear and jaw down to the collarbone. A person with sternocleidomastoid pain might notice trigger points along the side or front of the neck. Frequently, however, pain from this muscle radiates elsewhere, causing ear, eye, or sinus pain. Keep reading to learn more about the causes, diagnosis, and treatment of sternocleidomastoid pain.

The sternocleidomastoid is a superficial muscle, which means that it is just under the skin, not deep in the neck. It attaches to the mastoid process, which is a portion of the bone just behind the jaw and under the ear. The muscle extends down the length of the neck and ends where the collarbone and breastbone connect.

The sternocleidomastoid helps with the movement and balance of the head, The muscle is visible when a person moves their head from side to side. It also plays a role in the rotation, inclination, and extension of the head and neck. Due to its important role in supporting the head, any issues that affect posture and head position can irritate this muscle,

Sudden head movements, blows to the head, and other types of trauma can also cause pain and injuries. Most people with sternocleidomastoid pain develop the pain slowly due to a combination of lifestyle issues. When this muscle has to hold the head in an awkward position, it can gradually become irritated and sore.

carrying a heavy object, such as a child or backpack, in an awkward position poor posture, for example, when a person spends long days hunched over a computer or straining their neck to reach things in the garden an awkward work station layout that makes a person hold their neck in an uncomfortable positiontension or injury in other muscles of the shoulders, neck, or backholding a phone between the ear and shouldersleeping in an awkward position or on an uncomfortable pillow

Less frequently, some other factors may cause sternocleidomastoid pain. They include:

Trauma: A fall, blow to the side of the neck, or car accident may injure the neck muscles, causing strains, sprains, and other injuries. A person does not have to fall or experience a serious injury to sustain damage to this part of the body, however. A 2014 case report details a ruptured sternocleidomastoid following an epileptic seizure. Arthritis: Arthritis in the spine can cause referred pain in the sternocleidomastoid. It may also cause a person to change their posture or move their head in a way that increases the risk of injury. Myofascial pain syndrome: Myofascial pain syndrome is a type of muscle pain that causes trigger points in a muscle. A person may feel pain radiating to other areas when they press on these trigger points. Most people with myofascial pain experience symptoms following an injury or due to chronic lifestyle issues, such as bad posture.

Generally, people with an injured sternocleidomastoid do not feel pain at the site of the injury. Instead, the pain tends to radiate to other areas of the body. The most common symptoms include:

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unexplained ear pain, which may present as soreness, aching, or a sense of fullness in the ear pain in the face or the front of the head pain in or above the eyes dizzinessnauseathroat pain when swallowingheadaches, including migraine-like headaches pain in the sinuses or nose neck stiffness, including difficulty rotating the head from side to sidetingling in the face, head, or neck

A doctor will begin the diagnosis of a sternocleidomastoid injury by asking the person about their symptoms and their recent medical history and activities. It is important to tell the doctor about all symptoms, even if they seem unrelated, as injuries to this muscle can cause a wide variety of seemingly unrelated symptoms.

The doctor will then carry out a physical examination, asking the individual to perform voluntary movements. These may reveal tenderness or stiffness in the muscle due to bad posture, chronic muscle weakness, or lifting heavy objects. Imaging scans may be necessary for the doctor to get a detailed view of the muscles and surrounding structures.

An ultrasound can help them diagnose trauma to the sternocleidomastoid, while an X-ray can rule out broken bones. Various treatments are available for sternocleidomastoid pain, with the type and cause of the injury determining the best option. Possible treatment approaches include:

Lifestyle changes: When bad posture or carrying heavy objects causes sternocleidomastoid pain, addressing this issue can prevent the pain from getting worse. Pain management: Rest, ice, heat, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may help reduce pain. Some people find that alternating heat and ice is helpful. Physical therapy: Physical therapy can help a person regain strength in the neck and head. It can also help prevent chronic injuries. Surgery: If other treatments fail, a person may need surgery, especially if the sternocleidomastoid ruptures or tears. Chiropractic care: Chiropractic care is among the alternative treatments that may help reduce pain for some people.

Gentle stretches and exercises can help restore strength to the neck and reduce stiffness. It is important to talk to a doctor or physical therapist before exercising. Some exercises may make the injury worse, especially if a person does not use the correct technique. The following exercises may help with neck pain:

Cervical flexion: Sit upright on a chair and slowly tilt the head forward and then back again. Repeat this movement several times, but keep it steady to avoid additional strain. Cervical side flexion: Sit upright on a chair and slowly tilt the head to one side and then the other. Repeat this movement in a controlled manner. Cervical rotation: Sit upright on a chair and slowly rotate the head to face one side and then the other. Repeat this movement several times, only turning the head as far as is comfortable. Chin tucks: Sit upright on a chair and slowly draw the chin inward while keeping the head straight. Keep the repetitions steady to avoid straining the neck further.

A person might not notice a sternocleidomastoid injury because the symptoms typically spread to the head and face. In many cases, they might think that they have an ear infection, migraine episode, eye health issue, or another unrelated issue. It is, therefore, important to see a doctor for any unexplained health symptoms. With appropriate treatment, sternocleidomastoid pain usually goes away.

What are the symptoms of a tight SCM muscle?

The largest symptoms of SCM syndrome include stiffness or tightness in the neck, aches and pains while turning or tilting the head, and a decreased range of neck motion. These symptoms may also result in further complications such as having difficulty while holding the head up, fatigue of the neck muscles, and nausea.

How long can sternocleidomastoid pain last?

History – A 37-year-old, right handed mother of two preschool-aged children presented with complaints of posterior and lateral neck pain, occasional facial numbness, and tingling sensation over her left cheek, forehead, tip of her chin and left ear. These facial sensations were often accompanied by a sensation of dizziness, throat pain upon swallowing, jerking of left eyelid, and excessive lacrimation on the same side.

  1. She described these symptoms as intermittent, lasting from minutes to a few hours at a time, with a frequency of three to twelve episodes per week.
  2. There was no previous history of such symptoms, nor any other muscular or skeletal conditions.
  3. The patient appeared to be within healthy weight parameters, and had experienced no recent, unusual weight gain or loss.

She had had no history of accident or blunt force impact that could be linked with the onset of symptoms. The patient stated that her symptoms began more than three months before, during a time when her youngest child was ill and she spent long periods carrying him with her left arm while performing tasks with her right.

She also often slept with her toddler in her arms. She reported that her symptoms had been gradually worsening during the course of the previous two months. The patient initially consulted her family physician in order to rule out possible pathological or systemic causes. A series of blood and urine tests were performed which reportedly all proved to be within normal limits.

She was then referred to a neurologist. An MRI of her brain and cervical spine was performed and the results were also unremarkable. She was then referred to a dizziness clinic for evaluation and no specific cause for her dizziness was discovered. The patient sought chiropractic care in our office at that point, since no traditional, allopathic treatments had been offered to her.

Is it safe to massage SCM?

Muscle of the Month: Sternocleidomastoid The Sternocleidomastoid or SCM is one of the most important muscles of the anterior neck. It has two heads, one of which attaches to the top of the sternum (breast bone) while the other attaches on the clavicle (collar bone).

These two heads join into one muscle and insert on the mastoid process of the temporal bone which is behind the ear. There is one SCM on each side of the neck and they can work either together (bilaterally) or individually (unilaterally). Working unilaterally, the SCM rotates the head and neck to the opposite side and bends the neck to the same side.

Working bilaterally, the SCMs bend the neck forward, bringing the chin towards the chest. This is another muscle that is often ignored by massage therapists because it is awkward to massage and can be very tender. Most people that I see have never had this muscle worked on before visiting my office! While it is not common to experience pain in the front of the neck, trigger points in the SCM can send pain to the head, eyes, ears, and jaw.

A tight SCM can also severely limit range of motion in the neck. The SCM may be stressed by keeping the head in a position of looking up or to the side for an extended period of time or by sleeping with too many pillows. It may even be strained by holding the head too far forward (such as while looking at a computer or mobile phone) which requires the SCM to support much of the weight of the head.

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The SCM is almost always injured in acceleration/ deceleration incidents such as whiplash. Because it contributes significantly to three out of the four major motions of the neck, it is very important to seek care after any whiplash-like incident, even minor car accidents and falls.

  1. I recommend seeing a chiropractor immediately after any such injury for a thorough evaluation and then quickly beginning a series of massage sessions to address any injury to the SCM.
  2. The SCM is one of the easiest muscles to massage yourself.
  3. Will give you a good idea of how to massage your SCM.
  4. I recommend that you try this while lying down with the head supported so that the SCM is relaxed.

It is not possible to pick up arteries, veins, or nerves while massaging the SCM so don’t worry about causing injury to those structures. If, however, you find that you can feel your pulse in a certain area, move you fingers away to ensure that you are not pressing on an artery.

Can sternocleidomastoid pain be cured?

1. Massage Therapy – This can be easily done by yourself, use your thumb and forefinger to squeeze the muscle gently or you can also opt for a therapy by a masseuse. Trapezius muscle can help in stretching the Sternocleidomastoid muscle. To stretch right trapezius, sit and tilt your head to left, then bend more to left.

While bending, place the right hand under the right hip. Keep tilted at left and fall the head forward. Turn face to left and pull left hand to head’s right side for further stretching. For stretching of sternocleidomastoid, tuck your chin after rotating head to right side, your opposite sternocleidomastoid should feel the stretch.

To learn the process of self-massage for muscles of neck, see: Individual muscles don’t need strengthening, but the neck exercise can make all the muscles work properly. The pain in sternocleidomastoid can also be healed by pushing the head forward (the sternocleidomastoid function corresponds to flexion activity of neck).

How do you fix a tight SCM?

Step 1: – Locate your Sternocleidomastoid muscle and lightly pinch it down with 2 fingers – Right where your clavicle is. To locate the SCM just turn your head to one side and then bring your head forward. The SCM muscle should pop out. This muscle runs from the Clavicle to the Mastoid process (just behind your ear).

What are the knots on the SCM?

Welcome back for another neck series. Did everyone give the range-of-motion test a try? Did both left, right, front, and back sides feel even and pain-free? Hope it did! Below is a chart to compare your ranges. Hooray for charts!

Cervical Spine Direction Degrees of Range (Approx. degrees)
Flexion 50
Extension 60
Lateral Flexion 45
Lateral Rotation 80

Today, we will be looking at one of the most unique muscles of the neck, the sternocleidomastoid ( SCM ). This muscle is located in the front of your neck on both left and right sides and controls movements associated with the neck. It has attachments on the sternum, clavicle, and temporal bone of your skull (mastoid process), hence the name sterno-cleido-mastoid.

Origin (where the muscle starts) Manubrium (sternum) Clavicle (collar bone)
Insertion (where the muscle ends) Mastoid process (behind the ear)
Action on C-spine (movement it produces) Bilaterally (both sides together)

  • flexion
  • extension

Unilaterally (one side only)

  • lateral flexion (ear to shoulder)
  • lateral rotation to opposite side (chin to opposite shoulder)
Nerve Innervation Spinal accessory nerve (XI) Sensory supply from C2 and C3

So why are we looking at this muscle? The SCM is highly susceptible to something we call myofascial trigger points. These points generally feel painful and very tender upon palpation. You may even feel “knots” when palpating these muscles. Trigger points form because the muscle is too overworked, stressed, and ultimately tight. Most often, injury/dysfunction of this muscle typically comes from poor head-neck posture or from trauma such as whiplash. Here are some common signs and symptoms you may be experiencing:

  • Neck pain
  • Headaches (occipital, temporal, frontal, or around the eyes)
  • Migraines with visual disturbances
  • Dizziness
  • Pain in upper chest

As massage therapists, when considering treatment goals, we want to make sure these trigger points are addressed and that everything is properly aligned. Without proper alignment, the muscle will not be able to function optimally. Here are some tips and tricks on treating your SCM:

Stretch the muscle

  • Make sure your head and neck are properly aligned in a neutral position
  • Tilt your chin up slightly as if you are gazing at the stars.
  • Proceed to bring your hand over your head onto the temple
  • Bring your ear to your shoulder
  • Go slow and stretch only until you feel a nice pulling sensation along the side of the neck. Hold the stretch for 30 to 60 seconds.
  • Make sure to avoid any unnecessary pain and keep your shoulders down.


    • Locate the muscle by first rotating the chin to one side.

Lightly pinch/grab the muscle belly

  • While holding onto the muscle, align yourself in a neutral position looking straight ahead.
  • Perform slow movements of ear to opposite shoulder repetitively
  • Self-releases should only be performed 20 to 30 seconds at a time with rest between sessions.

Give the stretch and self-release a try for yourself. Hope you find some sort of relief with them! Please stay tuned for more content including videos and more posts about the neck muscles. Cheers! By: Jonathan Chang, RMT, SMT(cc) References: Contact us today to book your massage!

What are the trigger points for SCM muscle pain?

Stripping Your SCM What is SCM? SCM stands for Sternocleidomastoid, It is the muscle that sits in front on both sides of the neck as shown in the figure. SCM is responsible for rotation of the neck to one side when acting alone, and forward flexion of the neck when SCM on both sides act together.

It works together with other muscles of the neck, the Trapezius and Scalenes during side bending of the neck as well as with Scalenes during deep forced inhalation. It may look innocent sitting there in front of the neck, most people are not quite aware of it; but it can be a headache literally causing a headache! Why is SCM so important? SCM can cause tremendous amount of pain when containing trigger points and it is a very common site for trigger point development.

Trigger points can occur in both parts of the muscle, the Sternal head and the Clavicular head either separately or simultaneously on both parts and can also spread to the opposite SCM on the other side of the neck. Trigger points in the Sternal part can cause pain to spread behind and above the eye, around the jaw (TMJ), and the back and top of the head.

What are the symptoms and problems associated with SCM? SCM trigger points can produce pain and variety of symptoms such as:

Head and face painTension HeadacheMigraineDizzinessVertigoJaw PainEar PainPain in upper chestVisual disturbances: blurred vision, double visionAtypical Facial Neuralgia: pain localized to the cheek, jar and temporal region

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What causes trigger points in SCM? Most commonly trigger points develop in SCM when the muscle is overload or overstretched as well as keeping the neck in awkward positions for too long or forcefully and abruptly moving the neck, for example:

Overhead activities : such as painting, climbing, overhead lifting and some gymnasticsForward-head posture: slouching with head forward ie when using phones or tablets Sleeping positions : sleeping on stomachComputer positioned on one sideHolding telephones or mobile phones with shoulder on one side without using hands

Others include:

Trigger points in Upper Trapezius musclesScoliosis and other postural abnormalitiesChronic coughWhiplashStressAsthmaTight collar or tie

How can SCM trigger points be treated? There are several ways to help treat trigger points including:

Trigger point release (ischemic compression): applying deep maintained pressure directly over the trigger points.Dry Needling: a thin needle is inserted directly into the trigger points. Once the needle is inserted, a twitch in the muscle occurs. This causes the fibers to relax, relieving tension and spasm in the muscle, and breaking or deactivating the trigger points.Passive stretches to the SCM, Upper Trapziuz, Scalenes, Pectoralis and Suboccipitals. Each stretch held for at least 45-60 seconds.Post-isometric relaxation of SCM: actively moving the neck against resistancePostural advice and corrective exercisesMuscle facilitation exercises: for Lower and Middle Trapezius and deep neck flexors.Foam rolling or trigger point ballChiropractic joint mobilization/manipulation

So get your SCM checked when you’re suffering from headaches, facial pain or migraine-related symptoms. : Stripping Your SCM

What are the trigger points of the SCM?

Massage Therapy for the Sternocleidomastoid Muscle – Using massage therapy for the Sternocleidomastoid muscle can help to reduce neck pain and headache. This muscle is one of the largest superficial muscles in the neck. It helps to stabilize the head and neck when it is in the forward and backward positions.

This muscle is located on the base of the skull and it attaches to the sternum. It is responsible for a number of head and neck movements, including flexion, extension, rotation, and tilting. The SCM muscle is also involved in chewing and swallowing. It helps to stabilize the jaw and prevent hyperextension of the head.

It can also be injured in accidents. The muscle has several trigger points that can cause pain. These trigger points can be located on the face, neck, ear, cheek, and forehead.

Can SCM affect vagus nerve?

For this reason, it can be thought that SCM muscle tension or thickness may affect the carotid sheath and thus the function of the vagus nerve passing through it. In summary, deterioration in vagus nerve activity plays a role in pathologies of the organs innervated by the vagus.

What nerve is behind the SCM?

Cranial Nerve XI (Spinous Accessory) – The sternocleidomastoid (SCM) and trapezius muscles, which aid in stabilization and movement of the cervical spine and shoulders, receive their innervation from the eleventh cranial nerve (the spinous accessory nerve).

This nerve actually originates in the upper cervical spine but ascends into the cranium before descending back to its muscular connections, thereby making either cervical or intracranial sites locations for lesions that might result in weakness. Testing involves the patient shrugging his or her shoulders while the clinician looks for symmetrical movement and effort.

The patient’s upper extremities should be otherwise relaxed. Then, this position should be maintained as a moderate amount of downward pressure is applied over the shoulders to test for subtle loss in muscle strength. Next, with the patient’s head in a level, neutral position, the clinician should have him or her rotate the head to either shoulder while the clinician places gentle resistance to the opposite side of the face.

What does SCM dizziness feel like?

The SCM and Balance – Sternocleidomastoid syndrome is characterized by vertigo/dizziness and balance problems. While you wouldn’t think that a neck muscle is critical for balance, it turns out that the SCM has a role to play. In the late 50s and early 60s, NASA wanted to figure out what would happen to astronauts if they injured certain neck muscles during the immense g-forces of take off.

  1. Since the SCM was vulnerable, the space agency surgically cut the SCM muscles in primates (this is a horrible experiment that likely would never happen today).
  2. The primates had trouble walking and staying upright, confirming that the SCM plays a role in providing proprioceptive information to maintain normal balance.

I bring this up because we have seen patients with SCM problems who have trouble maintaining normal balance (1-3). It should also be noted that the position sensors in the SCM (proprioceptors) are linked to eye movement, similar to the upper neck. Meaning stimulating the SCM with vibration initiates specific involuntary eye movements (5).

Can tight SCM cause jaw pain?

Patients with complaints of ear pain or fullness could have Sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscle pain. Sternocleidomastoid (scm) muscle pain typically brings complaints of dizziness or sudden hearing loss, headache or jaw pain, even when everything appears to be normal.

If this is the case it might be time to consider a muscular or mechanical reason for the symptoms. Many patients with these complaints are referred to physical therapy clinic after months of testing that are inconclusive and often negative. We have found the sternocleidomastoid muscle is often the source of the patient’s complaints.

Pain and Symptoms Associated with the Sternocleidomastoid Sternal Division This is the muscle head that connects to the breastbone (sternum). Pain may be felt in these areas:

Cheek and jaw Sinuses Back of head at the bottom of the skull Around one eye Top of head

It may also be associated with these symptoms:

Tearing of eye Visual disturbances when viewing parallel lines Chronic “sore throat” when swallowing, Chronic dry cough

Clavicular Division This is the muscle head that connects to the collarbone (clavicle). Symptoms may be felt in these areas:

Pain across the forehead Frontal sinus-like headache Earache Nausea Dizziness Car-sickness Faulty weight perception of held objects Hearing loss in one ear

Physical Therapy can help patients experience Sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscle pain relief in as little as one visit. A physical therapist will evaluate the patient to determine which part fo the Sternocleidomastoid Muscle is causing the patient pain, as well as the sensitivity levels of trigger points.

Once a treatment plan has been determined our licensed physical therapists will work with patients on certain exercises and stretches designed to increase flexibility and strengthen the Sternocleidomastoid muscle. Hands-on manual therapy techniques are used to relax the muscle to help reduce pain levels.

Dry needling may also be utilized to give relief to multiple trigger points. This article was written by the physical therapists at Quad City Physical Therapy, located in Davenport, IA. More information about Qaud City PT can be found at Post Views: 36,118

What muscle is deep to SCM?

Variation – The clavicular origin of the sternocleidomastoid varies greatly: in some cases the clavicular head may be as narrow as the sternal; in others it may be as much as 7.5 millimetres (0.30 in) in breadth. When the clavicular origin is broad, it is occasionally subdivided into several slips, separated by narrow intervals.