Zygomaticus Major: Pain & Trigger Points

The zygomaticus major is a muscle of the face and helps with friendly facial expressions.

If it is tense or affected by trigger points, it can trigger pain in the face and forehead.

However, with a self-massage you can yourself of these tensions and trigger points.

On this page you will learn how to do it!

I will also show you which problems the muscle can cause, where it is located, how you may have overloaded it and how you can feel it.

1. Pain Patterns, Symptoms & Differential Diagnoses

1.1 Pain patterns

Trigger points in the zygomaticus trigger pain that extends upwards along the side of the nose up to the forehead.

2. Attachment Points

The muscle extends from the cheekbone down to the corner of the mouth, where it connects to the fibers of the orbicularis oris.


  • Os zygomaticum


  • Corner of mouth & orbicularis oris


  • The muscle is innervated by the facial nerve

3. Function

The zygomaticus major rises the corners of the mouth upwards and outwards and thus helps …

  • to express your smile.
  • to say “cheeese” (to the photographer)

4. Zygomaticus Major. Trigger Point Activation

Trigger points in the zygomaticus mainly get activated by active overloads (high muscular demands). In this case, if you use your facial muscles a lot.

What is more, trigger points in the zygomaticus may be activated as a result of trigger points in the muscles of your jaw.

In this case it is very important to examine and massage these muscles as well:

5. Palpation

It is not easy to feel the muscle, but I’m convinced that with a bit practice and patience you will succeed.

Before you start palpating the muscle, I recommend that you first feel your zygomatic arch.

  • This is the bony area that you can feel at the edge of your orbital cavity.

Let us now proceed to the actual palpation of the muscle.

  • Grasp the area between the cheekbone and the corner of the mouth with your thumb and index finger – as if your fingers were pincers.
  • Try to feel the muscle using this “pincer grip”.

You can also feel the muscle under contraction, which may make palpation easier for you.

  • To do this, slightly retract the corners of your mouth (=> smile) a few times.
  • Try to feel the muscle’s contractions between your fingers.
  • Do not perform any large movements, otherwise the tension will become too high and you will no longer be able to feel the muscle.

6. Zygomaticus Major: Self-massage

For the self-massage, use your fingers, again with the pincer grip.

Grasp the muscle as described above.

  • Look for painful tensions by rolling it back and forth between your fingers.
  • Massage each point by rolling it a few times between your fingers.


  • Calais-German, Blandine. Anatomy of Movement. Seattle: Eastland Press, 1993. Print
  • Davies, Clair, and Davies, Amber. The Trigger Point Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide For Pain Relief. Oakland: New Harbinger Publications, Inc., Print
  • Simons, David G., Lois S. Simons, and Janet G. Travell. Travell & Simons’ Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual. Baltimore, MD: Williams & Wilkins, 1999. Print.
  • Schünke, Michael., Schulte, Erik, and Schumacher, Udo. Prometheus: Lernatlas der Anatomie. Stuttgart/New York: Georg Thieme Verlag, 2007. Print