Myofascial Pain Syndromes of the Neck & Chronic Headaches
By Dr. Greg Fors
Release myofascial pain in your neck effectively and conveniently with FENIX trigger point therapy self-care products.
We have become a society that constantly traumatizes the cervical spine, more and more individuals are suffering with chronic myofascial pain of their neck. This trauma to our neck muscles comes in two forms. First, as a society many of us sit reading or working at desks and/or computer terminals all day. This position causes individuals to sit for long periods of time with their neck in a slightly bent forward or flexed position.
To realize the stress this places on your neck muscles, imagine holding a six pound bowling ball upright in your hand in a slightly bent forward or flexed position. It would not be long before you dropped the ball from pain and fatigue. As we sit at our desks working, our muscles along the back of our neck are constantly straining to keep our head in a slightly bent forward position. These muscles under this stress overtime develop myofascial trigger points or muscle knots which can cause us neck pain, stiffness and headaches.
The second form of trauma that is common to neck muscles in this society is acute whiplash injury from automobile accidents or slip/fall injuries. This tremendous force into neck muscles will cause myofascial trigger points or muscle knots to form, causing myofascial pain syndromes of the neck and/or chronic headaches. To realize the small amount of force needed to injure the neck, again imagine holding onto a six pound bowling ball upright in your hand but this time in a car traveling only 30 miles an hour. Then think of just coming to an immediate stop, imagine how much force would be placed on your muscles trying to keep the bowling ball from flying forward. This is why even small accidents can produce severe and chronic injuries to the neck.
There are a wide variety of physical, physiological, and environmental factors involved in the cause of chronic neck pain and/or headaches. However, very rarely headaches and even neck pain can be caused by dangerous pathological processes or diseases (e.g. tumors, infections, etc.) Because of this anyone with headaches and/or neck pain must have a proper diagnostic work-up by a competent health-care professional before beginning any home care program!
The Stiff Neck Muscle - Levator Scapula:
You can remove these pain-causing myofascial trigger points and adhesions by utilizing the FENIX Rehab System. You can learn how to do this by clicking here. Here you will be shown how to apply the FENIX Rehab System step-by-step. To find your treatment points, go to How to Find a Trigger Point to get step-by-step instructions or see pictures provided in this article.
One of the most commonly involved shoulder-neck muscles that are injured by acute or chronic stress is the levator scapula muscle. This muscle starts at the upper inside corner of your shoulder blade and runs up the side of your neck to connect to the upper four bones (vertebra) of your spine. One study by Sola et al. found that 1/5 of healthy individuals had trigger points in levator scapula without even being conscious of it. It is also one of the most common trigger points found in the research studies. In the picture of the model you will find the trigger point of the levator scapula at the upper end of line E about a hands width below line G, near the X.
This is the trigger point that can give you that deep burning ache at the top corner of your shoulder blade and runs up your neck. You can see people at their desk reaching over their shoulder grabbing this area all the time. This myofascial trigger point is also the most common cause of neck stiffness. When someone has a hard time turning their neck to the right generally there is a trigger point on the same side in their right levator scapula muscle, located right at the top inside corner of their shoulder blade. If someone has a hard time turning to their left then it's just the opposite with the myofascial trigger point on the left top inside shoulder blade corner, just like the pain drawing demonstrates. Examine the pain drawing for trigger point location and trigger point therapy position in the picture of the model. Don't forget to stretch the levator scapula after performing myofascial trigger point therapy, see picture of the model and follow the instructions. Do the stretch slow and easy without causing yourself any pain for about 60 seconds.
The Fenix Rehab System can and should be shared with your doctor or therapist. They can help you pin-point the myofascial trigger points needing trigger point treatment. The Fenix Rehab System is an ideal home-care active therapy program to assist you and your healthcare provider in keeping you as pain-free as possible.
The "Coat Hanger" Muscle - upper trapezius:
Trigger points in the upper trapezius muscle are the most common muscle knots to cause complaints of neck pain and headaches. The upper trapezius is that top muscle ridge between your shoulder and your upper neck. It's that ache you want to massage away when you ask friends or colleagues at work to, "rub my shoulders."
The major trigger points of the upper trapezius muscle can be found by probing and pinching along the entire length of line G as shown on the model. The upper trapezius attaches to the upper boney ridge of your shoulder blade and runs up the side of your neck to connect to the back of your head. Some describe both sides of the upper trapezius forming the "coat hanger muscle," which is appropriate because you basically hang your shoulders by this muscle from the back of your head. The upper trapezius is the muscle that keeps your shoulders elevated. This is the muscle that gets involved when you find your shoulders elevated "up around your ears" because of stress and tension. This is the muscle you relax when someone tells you to "relax, drop your shoulders!" In other words this is a major muscle when it comes to neck pain and headaches from being tense and stressed-out.
If you take your left hand and reach across the front of your face to your opposite shoulder and pinch with your thumb and fore finger along that muscle ridge, you may find you have a trigger point somewhere along this muscle. Squeeze multiple areas along this muscle to see if you have any myofascial trigger points. This myofascial trigger point will refer pain up the side and/or back of your neck to the back of your head. If any of these myofascial trigger points are severe you may feel pain running around the side of your head to your temple on the same side (see pain drawing). Occasionally the pain will be felt above the eye and into the side of you face. Don't forget to switch sides and check the left upper trapezius by reaching across with your right hand.
You can now see why chronic neck pain and headaches are often caused by this muscle, leading to millions of Americans constantly taking pain meds because of stress and tension. These pain meds over time can have serious side-effects on your liver, kidney, and even heart function. Recently, the anti-inflammatory pain med Vioxx was taken off the market because of its cardiovascular side-effects.