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Orbicularis Oculi Muscle: Eye Pain and Twitching

The orbicularis oculi are the muscles that surround the eye. Trigger points in the muscle cause pain above the eye and down the side of the nose. Eye twitching is another common symptom.

Contents of Article


    Where is the orbicularis oculi muscle?

    Orbicularis Oculi Muscle Showing Trigger Point Locations

    The muscle consists of 3 parts: the orbital part, the palpebral part, and the frontal process. The muscle connects to the tissues of the eyelid.

    For additional occipitalis anatomy information, visit the Orbicularis Oculi Anatomy Page.

    What movements does the orbicularis oculi control?

    • Closes the eye
    • Blinking
    • Squinting

    What pain and symptoms are associated with the orbicularis oculi muscle?

    Orbicularis Oculi Referred Pain Pattern

    Pain in the eye and nose area

    Trigger point pain in the orbicularis oculi muscle starts above the eye, descending the side of the nose, into the cheek, and sometimes into the upper lip.

    Twitching eye and drooping eyelid

    Trigger points can also cause an annoying twitching of the eye and contribute to a drooping upper eyelid.

    Problems Reading

    If the print on a page seems to jump and move while reading, it may be due to trigger points in the muscle.

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    What Causes Trigger Points In the Occipitalis?

    Poor Eyesight and Eye Strain

    If you strain to focus due to poor eyesight, you will likely develop trigger points in the muscles. Working at computers and looking at phones, tablets, and T.V. screens for extended periods is also notorious for causing eye strain.  Reading without adequate light is also hard on the eyes.

    Overly Bright Lights

    Sunlight and other bright lights that make you squint can lead to trigger points in the muscle. If you are out in bright sunlight, it is important to wear sunglasses to protect your eyes and reduce strain on the orbicularis oculi muscle.

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    Orbicularis Oculi Muscle Trigger Point Treatment

    The orbicularis oculi muscle is easily self-treated. Use your fingertips to massage around the eyes gently. If you find an incredibly tender area, apply gentle pressure for up to 10 seconds. Applying pressure for longer can irritate the muscle and cause more pain and sensitivity.

    The sternocleidomastoid (SCM) often plays a role in vision and eye problems and can affect the orbicularis oculi muscle. If you are experiencing vision or eye issues, you will also need to check the SCM.

    The Trigger Point Workbook is a highly recommended book that will help you locate and treat TrPs not only in the above muscles but throughout the body. It is a must-have book for anyone who wants to learn about muscle pain and treatment.

    Interesting facts about the orbicularis oculi:

    • Eyestrain and poor eyesight can wreak havoc on this muscle. If this muscle suffers from constant shortening, it will make the print on a page jump around or appear wavy.
    • The orbicularis oculi are the muscles that cause crow's feet.

    Clinical diagnoses to which the orbicularis oculi muscle symptoms may contribute:

    • Eyestrain
    • Tension headaches
    • Ankylosing Spondylitis
    • Sinus headache
    • Sinusitis
    • Guillain-Barré Syndrome


    Other muscles that should be considered and examined in conjunction with the orbicularis oculi:

    Satellite trigger points associated with the muscle:

    If you find trigger points in the orbicularis oculi muscle you will want to check these muscles for additional trigger points.

    • Frontalis
    • Temporalis
    • Posterior Cervical Muscles

    Find additional muscles that may contribute to these symptoms:


    Muscles with similar pain patterns

    Sternocleidomastoid Muscle
    Temporalis Muscle
    Masseter Muscle
    Splenius Cervicis Muscle