Chiropractor Chandler AZ

Sternocleidomastoid Trigger Point

The origin of the Sternocleidomastoid muscle is the manubrium and medial portion of the clavicle. The insertion is at the mastoid process of the temporal bone, superior nuchal line. The motor control of the Sternocleidomastoid muscle is innervated by the accessory nerve and the sensory control is the cervical plexus.

The trigger points are in the head and neck, causing many symptoms including pain in the back of the head, cheek, ear, front of the chest, frontal and vertex (top of the head) headaches.

Here is a complete list of primary symptoms caused by the Sternocleidomastoid Trigger Point:

sternocleidomastoid trigger point
  • Back of Head Pain
  • Cheek Pain (like Sinusitis)
  • Dizziness When Turning Head or Changing Field of View
  • Double/Blurry/Jumpy Print Vision
  • Dry Cough
  • Ear Pain
  • Earaches/Tinnitus (Ringing)/Itch
  • Feeling Continued Movement in Car After Stopping
  • Feeling Tilted When Cornering in Car
  • Front of Chest Pain
  • Frontal Headache
  • Headaches or Migraines
  • Post Nasal Drip
  • Runny Nose
  • Sore throat
  • Tearing/Reddening of Eye, Drooping of Eyelid
  • Temple and Eyebrow Pain
  • Temporal Headache (Temples)
  • Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Pain
  • Throat & Front of Neck Pain
  • Traveling Nocturnal Sinus Stuffiness
  • Vertex Pain
  • Visual Perception Problems

The diagram below shows the trigger points and two areas of referred pain located in the forehead.

Conservative Treatments

Therapeutic treatments for addressing soft tissue injuries involve massage therapy, manual therapy, trigger point therapy, Graston Technique, or Active Release Technique.

These treatments increase blood flow, decrease muscle spasms, enhance flexibility, speed healing, and promote proper tissue repair.

When these treatments are incorporated into a treatment plan patients heal faster and are less likely to have long-term pain or soft tissue fibrosis or scar tissue in the injured muscle. These soft tissue treatments are incorporated with therapeutic exercise and flexibility programs.

Treatment for headache symptoms may involve many prescription, over the counter, herbal, and homeopathic remedies. The sternocleidomastoid muscle needs to function appropriately and not remain in spasms. This often requires people to change their postures, habits, and activities.

Working any muscles in the front of the neck is not comfortable, but it needs to be done to restore proper cervical and shoulder function. The neck, shoulder, scapula, and arm work as a functional unit to turn your head, raise your shoulder, or reach in front of you. Dysfunction in any of these muscles leads to pain and tendinopathy.

Medical Treatments

NSAIDs are often prescribed for the initial acute injury stages. In severe cases that involve multiple joint regions, muscle relaxers or oral steroids can be given. Trigger point injections, botox, or steroid injections can be treatment options. Pain management is not usually required unless stronger medications or joint injections are required for treatment.

MRI and X-rays will not usually be ordered to evaluate mild to moderate muscle, tendon, and ligament injuries. Severe cases may utilize advanced imaging to rule out bone fractures, edema, nerve entrapments, tendon or muscle ruptures. NCV testing may be utilized in cases that also involve muscle, sensory, or reflex loss.

Cervical spinal disc bulges and herniations onto the spinal cord or nerve root produce different symptoms and location of symptoms. Your chiropractor, physical therapist, occupational therapist, or physician will evaluate your condition and make a proper diagnosis and treatment recommendations. Ask them any questions you might have about your injury.


The upper extremity works as a comprehensive unit performing many of the repetitive tasks at home, work, and recreational sports. Injuries to one area of the musculature often indicate that additional damage has been incurred by other muscles.

Many therapeutic exercises can help restore proper strength and endurance to the elbow flexor muscles. Isometric exercises are often the initial treatment exercises. Followed by single plane rubber band exercises for elbow flexion, extension, pronation, and supination movements. Dynamic exercises involving stability ball push-ups can be performed on the wall or floor. The more unstable of the surface the more effort and stabilization is required of all the upper extremity muscles.

Push-ups on a stability ball enhances neuromuscular learning throughout the neck, scapula, shoulder, upper arm, and lower our muscles. Additional strength exercises can be found on the arm and shoulder strengthening pages.

Our Chandler Chiropractic & Physical Therapy clinic treats patients with a variety of muscle, tendon, joint, and ligament injuries. The clinic provides treatment for runners, tri-athletes, and weekend warriors in addition to common headache, neck, and back patients traditionally seen in Chiropractic, Physical Therapy, Massage Therapy clinics. We work with all ages and abilities of the residents in Phoenix, Tempe, Gilbert, Mesa, and Chandler AZ.