Sternocleidomastoid muscle strain: What are the signs?

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A sternocleidomastoid muscle strain can be caused by abrupt movements such as whiplash. The sternocleidomastoid muscle is positioned laterally on both sides of the neck. These muscles are responsible for tilting and rotating the head to the left and right.

What are the muscular indications?

If an individual has a sternocleidomastoid muscle strain, it can trigger redness and swelling throughout the muscle. In severe instances, there is even bruising at the site of injury.

In case the strain causes a muscle spasm, there is shuddering or trembling beneath the surface of the skin along the neck. The application of an ice pack at 20-minutes per session several times throughout the day can lessen the redness and swelling.

What are the functional indications?

A sternocleidomastoid strain can prompt headaches especially at the attachment site of the muscle at the base of the skull.

Generally, there is dull discomfort at the path of the injury along with piercing pain when tilting or turning the head. In some cases, other signs might be present such as muscular fatigue, rigidity and inability in keeping the head erect.

Using a neck brace can help support the weight of the head to momentarily alleviate the stress on the sternocleidomastoid muscle. In addition, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and analgesic rubs can diminish some of the discomfort linked with the injury.

What are the systemic indications?

A sternocleidomastoid strain can prompt headaches especially at the attachment site of the muscle at the base of the skull.

Other signs that are present include head or facial pain, ringing ears, dizziness and blurry vision. The discomfort and rigidity can disrupt sleep that can lead to irritability, fatigue, concentration difficulties and memory issues.

A neck brace is worn to provide support to the head while asleep. Sleeping on the back with a towel rolled beneath the neck can help support the natural arc at the base of the skull.

Quick Note / Disclaimer

The material posted on this page on a sternocleidomastoid muscle strain is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize the signs of injury, register for a first aid and CPR course with Victoria First Aid.

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