Trigger Points For Migraines And Headaches

Today we have with us Valerie DeLaune, L.Ac. Valerie is a licensed acupuncturist and certified neuromuscular therapist. Valerie is also the author of eleven books and several articles on trigger point and acupuncture topics. She runs a clinic and creates trigger point workshops nationally.

Read on to find out:

  • The common misconceptions about trigger points
  • Which neck muscle trigger points cause migraines & tension headaches
  • Why trigger points keep coming back
  • How beginners can best approach treating trigger points for the first time

How Much Do You Know About Trigger Points?

Trigger points are sensitive, tender areas in the body’s muscles which cause pain when overstimulated.

One of the common misunderstandings people have about trigger points is that they are supposed to be located where the pain is felt. In reality trigger points maybe situated in a spot completely unrelated to the area you are experiencing the pain.

For headaches and migraines, the trigger points are usually found in various parts of the neck muscles. You can easily find trigger point charts to help you find these trigger points.

Also a common misconception is that pressing on trigger points causes pain only in the troubled area of the body. In fact they can trigger nausea, ringing in the ears, tingling or even vomiting.

Another very important thing people don’t understand or ignore is the need to look for what causes these triggers. Just treating the triggers brings temporary relief and the symptoms keep coming back again and again. There are some important perpetuating factors that need to be addressed such as: holding tension, allergies, nutrition, posture, and environmental stressors such as diet problems, addictions, and emotional factors.

Neck Trigger Points for Headaches and Migraines

A muscle that is commonly missed when treating headaches and migraines is the sternohyoideus muscle found right in front of the neck. It’s related with pain to the base and side of the head as well as the forehead. Pinching and pulling this muscle is a safe self-treatment technique even though it is located in a sensitive area of the neck, simply don’t push on it too hard.

The scalene muscles are not directly related with pain in the head. They would rather be treated when a person has a head forward posture.

The trapezius muscle is a very common trigger point for headaches. It’s also one that a lot of people find difficult to turn off completely and it often comes back. For Valerie trigger point are seen as chain reactions. When she is working on the trapezius muscle she always starts from the middle of the back and works her way upwards even though the most common trigger point for headaches is found in the upper trapezius, on top of the shoulder.

It causes pain in the back and the back of the neck and then on top of the ear and the temple. However the trigger point found at the lower trapezius or mid-back is known to turn on the trigger point on top of the shoulder therefore you can’t completely treat the upper trapezius point if you neglect the mid-back. You also need to address the other perpetuating factors that cause the upper trapezius trigger such as holding the tension in your shoulders, head and neck.

There are a few reasons why trigger points come back. One is that the person may have not addressed some of the perpetuating factors described above. Another is that there might be a condition call central nervous system sensitization. There might be also a satellite trigger point as in the example with the trapezius.

The Importance of Self-Treatment

When talking about headaches and migraines it is very important to know the difference between the two and their treatment. Migraines are actually a type of headache. Tension headache is another very common type. Migraines are often diagnosed with other symptoms like flashing lights, nausea etc. One study shows that pressing on trigger points can activate all of those migraine symptoms.

It is very important for people with trigger points to do self-help techniques daily in addition to consulting with a practitioner. Valerie likes to tell her patients that they’d heal 5 times faster if they would do some of the self-help techniques she teaches daily. And to help with this she recommends keeping a daily journal because it will help you find your unique pattern of perpetuating factors causing the triggers.

If you are dealing with trigger points for a first time, it is very important to fully examine each muscle by gently pressing or pinching until you feel tenderness and the referral pain. Don’t press too hard as pain needs to be contained in moderate levels.

You can find the headaches types by symptoms as well as the perpetuating factors for different types of headaches by visiting Valerie’s resource page here.

To learn more about Valerie’s work visit her website

And listen to the full interview here:

Buy Valerie’s book: Trigger Point Therapy for Headaches and Migraines: Your Self -Treatment Workbook for Pain Relief

Thanks for sharing the post. It was really helpful.

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