Shown above is the pain pattern for the Sternocleidomastoid. Pain arises in the upper rib cage and chest and refers to the jaw and cheek and upwards behind the ear and behind and above the eye.

Activities Which Aggravate the Pain
Repetitive looking side to side, looking up and down or turning the head to one side and looking up.

Positions that Aggravate Pain from this Muscle
Holding the head fixed to one side, moving with a "stiff neck." This figure shows where the muscle is located in the body and how it is attached to the bones of the body.

Anatomy Facts - Sternocleidomastoid


Muscle Action
One muscle alone, rotates the face to the opposite side, and lifts the head upwards. Both muscles are involved in neck flexion and are accessory muscles of inspiration.

Muscle Origin
The sternal head arises from the superior and lateral portion of the sternum. The clavicular head arises from the medial one third of the clavicle.

Muscle Insertion
Both heads insert onto the lateral surface of the mastoid region of the temporal bone, overlaying the levator scapulae insertion.

Muscle Innervation
From a branch of the ventral ramus of the 2nd and 3rd cervical nerves along with the spinal accessory nerve.

Trigger Point Locations - Sternocleidomastoid


You can find your own trigger points by using your thumb or finger to press on the spots shown in the picture. They are not difficult to find. Or you can ask a friend or family member to help you. Press firmly in a step-by-step manner until you find the exact spot that is tender. That is the trigger point.

By pressing firmly on the trigger point, and holding that pressure for several seconds, you will discover the pain lessens dramatically. In fact there are devices that can help you do this. We recommend a device called a "TheraCane" that can be purchased at many stores such as Sammons Preston Medical Equipment that has a mail order catalogue that can be contacted at 1 800 323-5547. The TheraCane is their item # 5244. The TheraCane can use be purchased at many local pharmacies.

Unfortunately this technique, known as acupressure, or shiatsu, provides only temporary relief. Some physicians inject drugs like Novocaine into trigger points, but these offer only temporary relief as well, and can cause scar tissue in the muscle.

Isometric Contraction Testing - Sternocleidomastoid


A painful muscle will become more painful if it is forcefully contracted (flexed). Use this picture to test this for yourself with the help of a friend or family member.

Follow these Directions
While sitting in a chair, have your assistant stand behind you and rest one hand on your non-painful shoulder and the other hand along side your chin and jawbone on the painful side. Attempt to turn your head to the painful side while your assistant prevents your head from turning.