All of these seemingly unrelated symptoms can actually have a very simple, though often quite unsuspected, connection. They can be caused by myofascial trigger points (tiny contraction knots) in strained, overworked, or traumatized muscles of the head, face, jaws, and neck.
This comes from decades of clinical research by Doctors Janet Travell and David Simons, authors of the widely acclaimed medical textbook, Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual.
Any of these diverse symptoms can begin after a whiplash accident, a fall, or an athletic injury that violently overstretches or over contracts the scalene and sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscles of the front and sides of the neck.
Trigger points that are created by these incidents can exist undetected for years, the unknown and unaddressed source of disheartening chronic pain and disability.
Doctors Travell and Simons point out that numbness, tingling, and other apparent neurological symptoms in the upper back, shoulder, arms, and hands that mysteriously persist after an auto accident can be nothing more complicated than a tight muscle squeezing a nerve as a result of a trigger point that won’t let the muscle relax.
Injury to posterior neck muscles is familiar to everyone, but few people recognize that the anterior neck muscles can also be seriously affected by whiplash and falls. Trigger points in these muscles are the source of an astonishing variety of symptoms that very often leave physicians scratching their heads.
Trigger points in the anterior neck muscles can blur your vision and make the words dance around on the page when you’re trying to read. They can sometimes be the cause of a chronic dry cough or a sore throat that won’t go away. They can be the source of numb lips, tongue pain, and a drooping upper eyelid (ptosis).
Dizziness and Vertigo
These anterior neck trigger points can distort your perception when gauging the weight of things. They can cause dizziness and discoordination, making you to stumble and lurch and awkwardly bump into things. Dizziness from trigger points can last for minutes, hours, or days.
Often incorrectly labeled “benign postural (or positional) vertigo,” dizziness caused by myofascial trigger points can become a lifelong recurrent condition, defying all treatments and medical explanations.
Reversible Hearing Loss
Amazingly, you can sometimes experience a degree of reversible hearing loss on the side where trigger points exist in anterior neck muscles. This is thought to be due to referred tension in the tiny stapedius and tensor tympani muscles that attach to the equally tiny bones of the middle ear.
Tension in these little muscles could be expected to inhibit sound vibrations. Anterior neck massage has been known to bring back normal hearing when trigger points were to blame for the problem.
Some of these same trigger points in the front of the neck can cause occasional pain in the sides of the face that mimics trigeminal neuralgia, a disorder characterized by brief attacks of pain caused by irritation of the trigeminal nerve.
Obviously, this confusing conglomeration of symptoms can have other causes than myofascial trigger points, but trigger points should always be one of the first things to be considered, because they can be so easy to treat. In fact, you can treat them yourself quite effectively if you have the right information.
In The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook, nationally certified massage therapist Clair Davies has simplified Travell and Simons’s extensive research into myofascial pain and made it accessible to the layman. His innovative methods of self-applied trigger point massage will relieve dizziness, vertigo, whiplash injury, trigeminal neuralgia, tongue pain, discoordination, and drooping eyelid when trigger points are the cause.To find out more about the book and the method, please visit the homepage. To read a growing number of reviews by
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