One of the first muscles to cause headache and neck pain is trapezius. This is a broad triangular muscle at neck and upper back, one of the largest superficial muscles at the back. It attaches to the base of the skull and extends down to the neck, the upper back until mid back; laterally it inserts to the shoulder blades. There are three functional regions to the muscle: the Upper, middle, and lower trapezius, and each region has its own function: upper region moves the shoulder blades and support the arms; the middle region retracts the shoulder blades and the lower region rotates and depresses the shoulder blades.
Levator scapulae muscle is the muscle located at the back and side of the neck. It originates at the transverse process of the first to fourth cervical vertebrae and inserts at the superior corner of the scapula. It lifts up the shoulder as the name suggests when the spine is fixed. It rotates and flexes the cervical spine laterally, when one shoulder is fixed. This is the way you use the muscle when you hold your phone ‘hands free’. It flexes and extends the cervical spine, if both the shoulders are fixed. This muscle pain presents a stiff and painful neck on the affected side. The pain is at the one side of the neck and the upper shoulder and the pain may go down to the shoulder blade and between shoulder blades. There is limited movement of the head: It is difficult to turn the head fully to the side without pain.
The rhomboid muscles
The rhomboid muscles include the rhomboid muscle major and the rhomboid muscle minor. They connect the scapula to the vertebras (C7-T5). The rhomboids mainly help to adduct your arm and they retract the scapula pulling it towards to the spine. They work together with levator scapulae muscle to lift up the medial border of the scapula and downwards rotate the scapula. The rhomboid muscle major also holds the scapula onto the ribcage. If the rhomboid muscles contain trigger points, you may feel the pain along the inner side of the shoulder blade. This pain is common if you work on the desk all the time.
The serratus posterior superior
The serratus posterior superior is deep to the rhomboid muscles. It originates at the seventh cervical and upper two or three thoracic spine and attaches at the second, third, fourth, and fifth ribs under your shoulder blade. It elevates second to fifth ribs to aid diaphragm for deep breath. If trigger point is present in this muscle, pain is mainly felt at the top of the shoulder blade and can go down to the back of the arm and hand.
Splenius capitis and cervicis
Splenius captis and cervicis are located at the neck and upper back and they work together to extend the neck, turn the head to the same side and rotate the head. Splenius capitis originates from the spinous process of the seventh cervical vertebra and the first three thoracic vertebrae. It goes under the sternocleidomastoideus and is inserted into the mastoid process of the temporal boneand surface of the occipital bone. The splenius cervicis originates at the spinous processes of the third to the sixth thoracic vertebrae and is inserted to the transverse process of the first three cervical vertebrae.
These two muscles can become tight and have trigger points, it contributes stiff neck and neck pain and the pain can radiate to the top of the head, under the skull and the eyes.
There are a group of six muscles under the occipital bone including rectus capitis posterior minor,rectus capitis posterior major, rectus capitis anterior, rectus capitis lateralis, obliquus capitis superior,and obliquus capitis inferior. Five of them attached the occipital bone connecting occipital bone with the neck. They contribute to the head and neck movements (extention, flexion, and rotation) and are also the cause of headache and neck pain.
Acupuncture helps to release headache and neck pain.
Below is an example from a research:
Acupuncture is effective for headache
Acupuncture is used to prevent and treat tension-type headache effectively. Recently a study investigated if acupuncture is more effective than routine care only; or more effective than 'sham' (placebo) acupuncture; or as effective as other interventions in reducing headache frequency in adults with episodic or chronic tension-type headache.
Result has shown that the proportion of participants experiencing at least 50% reduction of headache frequency was much higher in groups receiving acupuncture than in control groups. Acupuncture was compared with sham acupuncture in some studies. Among participants receiving acupuncture, 205 of 391 (51%) had at least 50% reduction of headache frequency compared to 133 of 312 (43%) in the sham group after treatment. The effect of acupuncture is comparable with physiotherapy, massage or exercise. This study suggested that acupuncture is effective for treating frequent episodic or chronic tension-type headaches
Linde K et al Cochrane Database Syst Rev (2016) Apr 19;4:CD007587. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD007587.pub2.