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Causes of Headaches
      The common headache is a very good example of unrecognized trigger point referred pain. Few people, and few doctors for that matter, recognize trigger points as a predominant source of headache pain. It seems so natural to blame headaches on nervous, vascular, or psychological conditions, but the truth is simpler than those explanations. Headache pain is produced by trigger points in overloaded neck muscles. To understand this, you simply need to examine the way that headache pain changes your behavior. When you have a headache, the pain is typically worse when you move your head. You often just want to lay down and be very still until the headache passes. When you do this, you are resting the muscles that move the head, the muscle groups in the neck and shoulder region.
        Of course, some headaches are caused by other problems, but trigger points play a role even in these conditions. Migraines, sinus headaches, and cluster headaches can typically be managed by trigger point therapy, and many times people are mistakenly diagnosed with these conditions when trigger points are actually responsible.

The Muscles and Trigger Points that Cause Headaches
      While there are many muscles that can contain trigger points that refer pain to the head, the two muscle groups that are involved in nearly every case are the Trapezius and Sternocleidomastoid muscle groups.
      The Trapezius is the large, diamond shaped muscle group that forms the base of the neck and upper back region. It has attachment points at the base of the skull, along the spine, on the shoulder blade, and on the collar bone. When this muscle contracts it typically moves the shoulder blade, but it also plays a part in moving the neck and head.
      Trigger points in this muscle refer pain to the back and side of the neck, to the temple region, behind the ear or back of the head, to the shoulder joint, and in the upper back region. Trigger points in this muscle develop for a number of reasons, including poor posture, emotional stress, whiplash injuries, falls, and sleeping positions (or sleeping under a ceiling fan). Additionally, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and dehydration (like the dehydration associated with a hangover) may activate trigger points in this muscle.
        Learn more about the Trapezius trigger points with this article from Dr. Perry >
Trapezius Trigger Points Are Like Opinions...Everybody Has One.
      The Sternocleidomastoid (SCM) is a muscle group that is found on each side of the neck. This muscle group has two divisions or parts, the sternal division and the clavicular division. Both divisions contract to flex the head forward or to the side, as well as to help rotate the head to each side.
      The sternal division attaches at the base of the skull behind the ear, and runs downward wrapping around the neck and attaching to the breast bone. Trigger points in this part of the SCM muscle refer pain to the top of the head, temple, above and around the eye socket, and to the back of the head. Additionally, these trigger points may produce other symptoms such as sore throat, dry cough, and eye redness and tearing.
      The clavicular division also attaches behind the ear, but wraps downward around the neck to attach to the collar bone instead of the breast bone. Trigger points in this division refer pain to the forehead, to the ear (and behind it), and sometimes to the molar teeth. These trigger points may also be responsible for bouts of dizziness or vertigo, as the SCM muscle is involved with orientating the head in space, which provides feedback for the sensory information derived from the "balance receptors" in the inner ear.
       Unlike Trapezius trigger points, SCM trigger points do not refer pain or stiffness to the neck. The pain from SCM trigger points is almost always severe, and is typically misdiagnosed as migraine or cluster headaches.
Trigger points in the sternal                  division
Trigger points in the clavicular
                  division
Important: The following content is provided for information purposes only. A proper diagnosis of any condition requires a physical examination by a licensed doctor.
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