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Snap, Crackle and Pop!

Have any of you noticed an audible "popping" sound in your head ? Ears that sound like they have a brass band playing in them ? Fuzzy vision and a need to lurch to one side on occasion? Door frames just seem to pop up out of nowhere ?

So now you have a bruised shoulder as well as a fun between the ears. All this symptoms can be quite alarming at first and certainly need to be checked out by a medical professional, on the whole they all belong to a queer phenomenon called

"SCM" Syndrome.. Or Sterno Cleido Mastoid Syndrome. The first part of the word, sterno, comes from the Latin word “sternon” which relates to the sternum (the breastbone). The second part of the word, cleido, means clavicle. The last part of the word, mastoid, comes from the Greek word “mastos” which means breast-shaped.

The thing is - I have had this problem and so do many others and it gets very confused with ENT issues / Sinus issues / Neurological and Sight.

It had been a very busy 6 weeks working away and I was desperate for a walk with the one pup at the time, the awesome Spanish water dog "Rio".

A breezy but warm Northern Irish morning. The kind where you hang everything out to dry, Island Magee is a stunning and dramatic outcrop on the East coast and home to the Gobbins walkway traversing the rocks in an exciting and alarming way. The nearby beach had just seen the tide go out and the rocks were slippy at best. Rio being Rio enthusiastically bounced into me and I commenced a descent to the ground backwards - hitting my shoulder and head behind my right ear on a friendly rock. As they say - "Paula's had another event". This was nearly 4 years ago. What ensued was a list of bizarre symptoms that collectively are SCM syndrome.

Brain Fog

Neck muscle spasms - especially when stressed or under pressure.

Balance problems - These are the most difficult to manage.

Changes in right eye tracking.

Ear infections and blocking / popping / whooshing noises.


Episodes of vertigo and nausea.

Neck crepitus

And a definite feeling of falling to the right hand side.


Problems with Vari-focal lenses . In fact SCM syndrome can be caused by these alone.

All of this was difficult to keep away from an observers' eye and can effect work and social life. So what's happening ?

The SCM plays a role in providing proprioceptive information to maintain normal balance. We have seen patients with SCM problems who have trouble maintaining this and use their hands and shoulder muscles to stay upright, this takes a great deal of internal work and attention creating distraction and an inability to connect quickly in conversations and the outside world, especially if they turn their head quickly to the side and need to "re-calibrate".

It should also be noted that the position sensors in the SCM (proprioceptors) are linked to eye movement, similar to the upper neck. Meaning stimulating the SCM with vibration initiates specific involuntary eye movements. This connection between the eyes and neck is a key neurologic mechanism by which we can track an object that crosses our visual field by both moving the neck and eyes in a coordinated fashion which is known as “Smooth Pursuit”.

Head and neck flexion coordination tests revealed chin juts, meaning an altered neck flexion pattern – possibly due to weak neck flexors and overactive sub-occipitals and SCM.

Sit-to-stand test can be performed, with the patient can show a faulty movement pattern by leading the move with the chin. This test is crucial in distinguishing an over active SCM It can also allow the practitioner to observe the SCM muscle in a dynamic setting rather than simply testing for sensitivity and tightness / pain on the SCM.

Stand and march test. Let your client stand on the spot and march their knees up to 90 degrees for 50 steps. If their feet end up facing more than 30degrees to the left or right then SCM is super tight and a problem.

If they state they have issues swallowing, talking, stuttering or difficulty finding words.

These are all signs.

How can we help as Bowen Therapists? We already have all the TMJ/ Vagal/ Neck/ Cranial moves in the bag.

Specific muscle testing of the SCM.

Checking eye tracking and symptoms

Balance tests.

Asking about Changes in social behaviour.

Epley manoeuvres to correct the relationship between the ears and sight / SCM.

Wobble Boards

Foundation training™️

Eye testing / ear draining.

Use the Posture Key™️

Things to really avoid.

Hairdressers washing sinks

Be careful of positions in dentist chairs.

Check sleeping pillows and try out various types to find the best.

Stressful environments / conflict.

Heavy weights either in the gym or at home.

Overloading on omega 6 foods and pro-inflammatory diets.

Are you struggling with these symptoms ?

Call me. on 07780 900 283 to see how new can help you recover or message me on

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