What Are Sternocleidomastoid Spasms?

Have you ever woken up and felt a kink in your neck? You try to turn your neck, but you can’t because the pain won’t go away.  In any case, the unbearable and uncomfortable pain may be due to a sternocleidomastoid spasm. 

Sternocleidomastoid (SCM) is the most significant superficial muscle in the front part of the neck. These thick muscles start at the base of the skull connecting to the sternum and collarbone. 

The SCM makes head and neck extension, flexing, inclination, and rotation possible. But, unfortunately, these muscles are used more than we take notice of, and we may even take them for granted until the pain lets us know, hey, something is not right here!

Causes of Sternocleidomastoid Muscle Spasms

Like other muscles, SCM muscles are susceptible to tension which may lead to spasms. So perhaps the pain developed throughout the day due to your repetitive activities or stress. Other causes of SCM pain can include: 

  • Overhead and activities 
  • Poor posture
  • Ergonomic deficient work posture
  • Carrying heavy objects
  • Aging 
  • Constantly sleeping on the stomach 
  • Neck trauma or falls
  • Exercise and weightlifting 
  • Anxiety and stress
  • Breathing improperly 
  • Arthritis 
  • Wearing a tight collar or tie

Sternocleidomastoid Pain Symptoms

Typically, sternocleidomastoids injury causes pressure, tightness, and dull to acute pain, especially when tilting or turning the head. Yet, damage can often send pain to other areas of the body. 

The following are some of the common symptoms: 

  • Headaches or migraines 
  • Pain in your jaw or ears
  • Ringing in ears 
  • Eye reddening and tearing 
  • Blurred, dimmed, or doubled vision 
  • Sinusitis 
  • Sore throat 
  • Balance problems or dizziness 
  • Nausea

How to Relieve Sternocleidomastoid Muscle Pain

There are different ways to relieve SCM pain. Rest, applying ice, or heat may be a helpful way to start controlling the pain. The following are also things you can do yourself to release tension and pain in your neck:

  • Massage – Use your fingers or a massage ball to relieve the pressure and pain. 
  • Stretching – Doing different neck stretches helps release the tension and lengthen the SCM muscles, providing relief. 
  • Pain-relieving gels – Applying cold or hot therapy gels may effectively relieve SCM pain by preventing swelling and reducing tightness.  
  • Medicine – Taking over-the-counter pain relievers can help reduce inflammation and tension causing the pain. 
  • Adjust posture – Making changes to your posture may be a simple way to relieve your SCM muscles.
  • Pillow – Adjusting the height of your pillow can prevent strain on your SCM.

Sternocleidomastoid Spasm Treatment

Some causes of neck spasms are more severe than others. These SCM muscle spasms are usually temporary and harmless. However, If you have tried home remedies and the pangs are recurring, you may need to worry about them developing into sternocleidomastoid syndrome. 

Pain is a clear sign that something isn’t right. Still, you may not always be able to notice or identify a sternocleidomastoid injury because the symptoms can be referred to another part of your body. To a greater extent, an untreated or misdiagnosed injury may affect your health. 

You can rest assured that the team over at Spine Health & Wellness can provide effective treatment to benefit your overall well-being.

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