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Trigger Point Therapy - Sternocleidomastoid (SCM) Syndrome

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Stretching the SCM following trigger point treatment

 

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SCM syndrome typically presents as neck stiffness with decreased rotation - sometimes along with nausea, tinnitus, vertigo, or spasms in the neck

The syndrome is most often associated with myofascial trigger points in both the SCM and upper trapezius.

 

 

SCM Trigger Points

SCM - Common Trigger Point Sites

 

 

Causes

Causes are often posture related with ‘Upper Crossed Pattern’ a common indicator, and it is very much associated with aging.

SCM Syndrome can also be caused by a trauma such as whiplash and is commonly connected with occupation-related repetitive strain - for example, it is known to be prevalent in violinists.

Remember that the head is heavy!

In order to maintain balance the eyes and ears need to be kept level. As people age and experience spinal degeneration, it becomes harder for muscles to prevent the head flexing forward. 

We see this a lot in our clinics and the therapist should be aware of the complications associated with treating elderly clients with SCM Syndrome related to spinal degeneration.

In these cases, the elderly client will present with less muscle tone and chronically tightened SCM’s.

 

 

 SCM Trigger Points

SCM and Trigger Point formation - ‘Relative’ head weight according to posture

 

Spatial Awareness and Balance

Travell and Simons wrote extensively regarding their observations on the role of the sternocleidomastoid for spatial awareness and balance.

They observed that over time a tight SCM with trigger points may well lead to headaches, disequilibrium or vertigo, without the neck stiffness typically associated with SCM Syndrome.

This makes sense when we consider the changes in SCM tone and trigger point formation that occur secondary to altered postural dynamics of  the head forward/upper crossed pattern (as above). 

It's worth mentioning here that treating SCM trigger points seems to produce consistently good results in addressing the type of dizziness and vertigo that many people with fibromyalgia experience.

 

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Established in the United Kingdom in 1999, we provide course and distance learning material for therapists and other healthcare professionals in over 40 countries.

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We are honored to have received the 2017 "Excellence in Education" Award from the National Association of Myofascial Trigger Point Therapists.

Since 1999 Niel Asher Education has won numerous awards for education and in particular for education and services provided in the field of trigger point therapy.

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Niel Asher Healthcare course instructors have won a host of prestigious awards including 2 lifetime achievement honorees - Stuart Hinds, Lifetime Achievement Honoree, AAMT, 2015, and Dr. Jonathan Kuttner, MD, Lifetime Achievement Honoree, NAMTPT, 2014.

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In addition to national accreditation for continued education, each course that we offer includes "NAT Learning Credits". By taking and completing courses you can accumulate NAT credits to qualify for NAT certification.

There are currently 3 levels of NAT certification. Certifying NAT is a valuable way to show your clients that you take continued education seriously, and to promote your skills and qualifications.

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Since 1999 the Niel Asher Technique for treating trigger points has been adopted by over 100,000 therapists worldwide, and has been applied to the treatment of a number of common musculoskeletal injuries.

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This trigger point therapy blog is intended to be used for information purposes only and is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or to substitute for a medical diagnosis and/or treatment rendered or prescribed by a physician or competent healthcare professional. This information is designed as educational material, but should not be taken as a recommendation for treatment of any particular person or patient. Always consult your physician if you think you need treatment or if you feel unwell. 

 

  

   

 

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