Trigger Points: Suboccipital Muscles


Please be sure to refer to What Are Trigger Points and How To Release Trigger Points when working on trigger points at home. As always, please consult with your primary care physician prior to any type of treatment.

Suboccipitals: Muscular Origins, Insertions, Actions, and Nerve Innervations
Our suboccipital muscles are composed of eight small muscles that run between the nuchal line of the occiput, our first cervical vertebrae, and our second cervical vertebrae. They assist us in being able to rotate our head, tilt the head backwards into extension, and tilt the head from side to side without moving the neck.

The nerve associated with these muscles is the suboccipital nerve.

Suboccipital Muscle Trigger Points: Location and Possible Symptoms


Feeling for these muscles may be difficult since they are under several other muscles and are right on the spine. When palpating these muscles, be sure to significantly warm up the area ahead of time and ease into the area so as to not cause pain.

When a trigger point is activated in the suboccipital muscles, you can feel a local, dull achy pain, that can travel from behind the ear up towards the eye. Since these muscles are also associated with visual focus, you may also feel pain traveling into the back of the eye socket. Patients have described this type of trigger point activation as "someone pushing on the back of my eye."

If you are feeling significant eye pressure, please consult with an optometrist to rule out possible significant issues.

Corinne D. Bracko-Douglas, CMT, LMT, CKTP is the owner of Dochas Clinical Massage Therapy based out of Columbia, MO. She received her diploma in Clinical Massage Therapy from The Soma Institute in Chicago, IL in 2004. She enjoys teaching others about how to live a healthy lifestyle and still works one on one with clients out of her private clinic. When not working as a therapist she can be found enjoying trail hikes with her wonderful husband, Lee, and their adorable doggos, Shadow and Koda, or trying out fun new workouts to expand her knowledge of the human body and how it functions.

The advice given in these articles is not meant to diagnose. Please always consult with a health care provider before performing any of the techniques described upon yourself.

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