The Semispinalis Capitis Muscle

The splenius capitis muscle can be found at the back of the neck and assists with extension, lateral flexion, and rotation of both head and neck movements.

Dorsal rami of cervical nerves C1-C4 typically give rise to two branches: one is known as the greater occipital nerve and a lateral branch innervates adjoining muscles. C1’s dorsal ramus, however, does not contain such an outer branch4.


The semispinalis capitis muscle can be found at the upper back portion of the neck (cervical spine). It’s a deep muscle that forms part of the transversospinalis muscle group spanning from the sacrum to the occipital bone on either side of the divide – alongside multifidus and rotatores muscles.

The muscle arises from a series of tendons extending from the tips of transverse processes for six to seven thoracic vertebrae and three cervical vertebrae in the upper chest region and their respective articular processes before uniting into a broad muscle that ascends and inserts between superior and inferior nuchal lines of the occipital bone. Its lower segment helps rotate and extend spinal columns; its upper piece bends the head forward or backward as needed.

Muscle pain associated with connecting the scalp and spine often has unique symptoms, which vary more than neck pain from other causes. Typical examples are pain encasing the top of the head, tingling in the temple area or into the eyes, or even feeling as if your forehead is twitching.

Trigger points in muscles can also contribute to headaches. One study demonstrated this by blocking the insertion fibers of the splenius capitis muscle with injections of steroids; this did not result in headaches as with blocking fibers of greater or lesser occipital nerves.

Headaches associated with the splenius capitis muscle may result from when the superior occipital nerve passes through it and into the trapezius muscle or from strain, sprain, or ligament injuries to this region of the spine.

Stretching, massage, and dry needling can all provide relief for neck pain symptoms. A healthcare provider experienced in neck pain can diagnose the cause and suggest appropriate treatments; gentle neck flexion (forward neck extension) is one effective technique to stretch neck muscles and treat splenius capitis headaches, but for maximum effectiveness, it should only be performed under close medical supervision to ensure no neck injuries occur.


The semispinalis capitis muscle is one of the transversospinal groups of muscles located in the neck and upper back region. This group comprises three separate forces: semispinalis thoracis, semispinalis cervicis, and semispinalis capitis, with semispinalis capitis being one of the largest muscles located posteriorly of this group. It can be identified by its distinct structure atop semispinalis cervicis.

This muscle begins its life as a series of tendons connected to the tips of transverse processes in the upper six to seven thoracic vertebrae and seventh cervical vertebra (C4-C7) as well as three cervical vertebrae above them (C7-C10), as well as their articular processes. When these tendons connect, they form one large muscle that passes upward toward the back of the head at the occipital bone between the superior and inferior nuchal lines of the skull bone where origins.

This muscle, along with splenius capitis and longissimus capitis muscles, forms the intrinsic posterior neck muscles used to extend the neck. Furthermore, semispinalis capitis crosses over with obliquus superior muscles in front of the neck, as well as rectus capitis posterior major and minor muscles for additional support in the extension of this region.

As with other posterior neck muscles, the semispinalis capitis may also become vulnerable to tension or injury, being involved in some of the leading causes of neck pain, such as whiplash.

Causes for neck extension problems could also include abrasions, sprains, direct trauma, and chronic neck extension activities like heavy lifting and overhead work that repeatedly stretch out your neck muscles. Over-stretching muscles may result in nerve damage that causes discomfort to those supplying those muscles, resulting in chronic pain.

Trigger points in muscles can cause symptoms that include pain at the back of the head, headaches, and numbness in the scalp. They may also spread pain throughout your arms, shoulders, and hands.

Neck pain can be reduced through gentle stretching of neck muscles and massage of surrounding tissues. Standard stretching techniques for relieving neck discomfort include forward neck flexion/extension with the head flexed at about 90-degree angles for 30 seconds at a time; using an Elasto-Gel Cervical Roll can also help alleviate symptoms by applying its rolling technique once or twice per day – these two therapies should work hand-in-hand to provide relief.


The semispinalis capitis muscle is one of three that comprise the deep layer (transversospinal) of neck muscles, responsible for flexion, lateral bending, and rotation of the head. Located at the back of the neck behind the multifidus muscle and beneath the trapezius muscle.

It originates as a series of tendons along the transverse processes of the upper six to seven cervical vertebrae and thoracic spine (C4 – C7) and inserts at the superior nuchal line on the occipital bone, located medial to longissimus capitis muscle, semispinalis cervicis muscle and sternocleidomastoid muscles.

Trigger points in these muscles can exert pressure on the occipital nerve, causing tingling and numbness at the back of the scalp. Activities like placing one’s head on a pillow or shifting one’s neck from side to side exacerbate this pain further.

Physiotherapy treatments for semispinalis capitis may include massage, stretching, and dry needling, with healthcare providers who specialize in these procedures recommending the one most suited to each patient. Stretching exercises for the neck and shoulders may help ease tension and pain relief, while stretching exercises may prevent further injuries in this area. Home therapies like heat or cold treatments or exercises could also be recommended as home therapies by healthcare providers to help treat or prevent injuries in this region.

Goose-neck posture is an abnormality of the neck caused by muscle imbalance. A 67-year-old female patient presented with this condition complained of tight neck muscle tension, an irregular extension movement when turning her head, and an abnormal thoracic tilt and forward sagittal shift of her neck that caused her chin to be pushed forward; both splenius capitis and sternocleidomastoid muscles were hypertrophic on EMG testing while her levator scapula was hypertrophic; Botulinum neurotoxin injection into both these muscle groups reduced goose-neck posture significantly.

The occipital nerve runs along semispinalis capitis, cervicis, and trapezius muscles before passing through them and continuing as the greater occipital nerve. If any of these muscles are touched accidentally or intentionally, activation of this nerve may trigger headache-inducing sensations in the back of the head and scalp areas.