Sternocleidomastoid Pain

sternocleidomastoid painSternocleidomastoid muscle is a strong muscle which originates from the front of the chest to the back of the head. It has two bands at the front, where one is attached to the collarbone and the other to the breastbone. Then, it goes sideways to the back behind the ears. There are two muscles like this, one at each side of the neck. It is responsible for the lateral movement of the neck and for the head rotation. There are some cases where you can feel a muscle pain, but also other symptoms which are related to this muscle injury.

What Are the Symptoms That Can Be Related to Sternocleidomastoid Pain?

  • Sore Neck. If you have a muscle pain, you can have the soreness as well, due to pain or too much rubbing the affected area.
  • A Tension Headache. This type of a headache is caused by high pressure or tension in the muscles, in this case, in the neck and the head itself. They can be strong but dull with the tenderness of the scalp and forehead. The pressure can be felt at the cranial part and in the neck.
  • Migraines. Another type of headaches which sternocleidomastoid muscle can provoke is a migraine. It is a strong headache followed up with sensitivity to light, hearing and muscle tenderness.
  • Disturbance in Vision. Sometimes, these types of pain can cause blurry sight or even diplopy which is a double sight. You can even sense the drooping eye which is caused by a spasm of the eye muscle called orbicularis oculi. Other problems may appear such as light sensitivity, jumping text where a person may have an impression that the text is moving. Tearing and redness of the eye can be present as well.
  • Ear Symptoms. Some muscle pain can cause deafness or bad hearing at the side of which the muscle is affected.
  • Pseudo Sinusitis. The muscle pain can cause sinus congestion with a runny nose and tearing of the eyes. This is frequent among the patients who have a sternal division of the muscle affected.
  • Atypical Facial Neuralgia. A person can have pain in the cheeks, jaw, and the temple region. Also on the same side as the affected muscle.
  • Sweating. If you are sweating only on the one side of the forehead, it can be a symptom of a sternocleidomastoid muscle pain.
  • Dizziness and Imbalance. The sense of dizziness can be present as well with nausea and fainting for some people.
  • Upper Chest Pain. If the front side of the muscle is affected, you may feel muscle tenderness and the pain in the upper chest bone.

Possible Causes of Sternocleidomastoid Pain

There are a few common reasons why you can sense sternocleidomastoid pain. Here are some of them.

  • Bad Posture. If you have a bad body posture, you may suffer from constant tension. Your muscle can be at constant pressure and it can become sore and hard. This is common with the ones who have the bad posture of their head while sleeping on a high pillow or you have kept your head in an unnatural way for too long.
  • Sudden Movement. This can happen if you have a sudden movement, such as whiplash. It is most common among the people who have suffered a car crash.
  • The Stress of the Muscle. If you have some long-term pressure at the muscle, it can become sore and you can feel the pain. If you are doing some activity which affects the muscle, such as wearing a tight tie, horse riding, holding your hands upwards for a long time, swimming, etc.
  • Infections. Some acute or chronical infections can cause muscle pain such as sinusitis or the flu.
  • Structural Change. If you have a shorter leg (leg discrepancy), you may expose your muscle the further pressure in order to keep the balance of the body.

Sternocleidomastoid Pain Treatment

There are a few ways you can relieve yourself of sternocleidomastoid pain.

  • Stretching and Strengthening the Muscle. If you stretch the trapezius muscle, it can also stretch the sternocleidomastoid one and help you with pain reduction. This is done by tilting your head from the right to the left side. Another thing you can do is tuck your chin after rotating to the right side. Do this to the both sides of the neck. You should feel the stretching of your opposite side. You can also do some neck exercise to strengthen the neck. Put your hand on one side of the jaw and push against it. The resistance will activate the muscle. You can also try leaning to the center of your forehead by putting the pillow or some cushion at the wall and leaning toward. This way, you should hold your body’s weight on your forehead while your muscles would fight the pressure.
  • Gels and Medications. You can use some gels like Penetrex which can provide pain relief and help with cooling the inflamed area. There are some drugs you can use such as ibuprofen and naproxen. These have anti=inflammatory properties and should minimize the pain.

Try to minimize the overload of the shoulder, don’t stand or sit too long and while doing that, try to keep the good posture in order to prevent neck and back pain. If you are sleeping on a high pillow, try to sleep on a straight one.


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