Muscles of the Neck: Anatomy

The muscles of the neck Neck The part of a human or animal body connecting the head to the rest of the body. Peritonsillar Abscess can be divided into 3 groups: anterior, lateral, and posterior neck Neck The part of a human or animal body connecting the head to the rest of the body. Peritonsillar Abscess muscles. Each of the groups is subdivided according to function and the precise location of the muscles. The muscles of the neck Neck The part of a human or animal body connecting the head to the rest of the body. Peritonsillar Abscess are mainly responsible for the movements of the head (i.e., extension Extension Examination of the Upper Limbs, flexion Flexion Examination of the Upper Limbs, lateral flexion-extension, and rotation Rotation Motion of an object in which either one or more points on a line are fixed. It is also the motion of a particle about a fixed point. X-rays), but the deep muscles also contribute to more intricate functions (i.e., speaking and swallowing Swallowing The act of taking solids and liquids into the gastrointestinal tract through the mouth and throat. Gastrointestinal Motility).

Last updated: Apr 1, 2022

Editorial responsibility: Stanley Oiseth, Lindsay Jones, Evelin Maza

Overview

Anterior muscles of the neck Neck The part of a human or animal body connecting the head to the rest of the body. Peritonsillar Abscess

Superficial layer:

  • Platysma: depresses the mandible Mandible The largest and strongest bone of the face constituting the lower jaw. It supports the lower teeth. Jaw and Temporomandibular Joint: Anatomy and tenses the skin Skin The skin, also referred to as the integumentary system, is the largest organ of the body. The skin is primarily composed of the epidermis (outer layer) and dermis (deep layer). The epidermis is primarily composed of keratinocytes that undergo rapid turnover, while the dermis contains dense layers of connective tissue. Skin: Structure and Functions of the neck Neck The part of a human or animal body connecting the head to the rest of the body. Peritonsillar Abscess
  • Sternocleidomastoid (SCM): flexion Flexion Examination of the Upper Limbs, extension Extension Examination of the Upper Limbs, and rotation Rotation Motion of an object in which either one or more points on a line are fixed. It is also the motion of a particle about a fixed point. X-rays of the neck Neck The part of a human or animal body connecting the head to the rest of the body. Peritonsillar Abscess
  • Subclavius: anchors the clavicle Clavicle A bone on the ventral side of the shoulder girdle, which in humans is commonly called the collar bone. Clavicle Fracture

Scalenes: lateral and anterior flexion Flexion Examination of the Upper Limbs of the neck Neck The part of a human or animal body connecting the head to the rest of the body. Peritonsillar Abscess:

  • Anterior scalene
  • Medial scalene
  • Posterior scalene

Suprahyoids: elevate the hyoid bone Bone Bone is a compact type of hardened connective tissue composed of bone cells, membranes, an extracellular mineralized matrix, and central bone marrow. The 2 primary types of bone are compact and spongy. Bones: Structure and Types during swallowing Swallowing The act of taking solids and liquids into the gastrointestinal tract through the mouth and throat. Gastrointestinal Motility:

  • Digastric 
  • Mylohyoid
  • Geniohyoid
  • Stylohyoid

Infrahyoids: depress the hyoid bone Bone Bone is a compact type of hardened connective tissue composed of bone cells, membranes, an extracellular mineralized matrix, and central bone marrow. The 2 primary types of bone are compact and spongy. Bones: Structure and Types and facilitate downward movement of the larynx Larynx The larynx, also commonly called the voice box, is a cylindrical space located in the neck at the level of the C3-C6 vertebrae. The major structures forming the framework of the larynx are the thyroid cartilage, cricoid cartilage, and epiglottis. The larynx serves to produce sound (phonation), conducts air to the trachea, and prevents large molecules from reaching the lungs. Larynx: Anatomy after swallowing Swallowing The act of taking solids and liquids into the gastrointestinal tract through the mouth and throat. Gastrointestinal Motility:

  • Sternohyoid
  • Thyrohyoid
  • Omohyoid
  • Sternothyroid

Lateral (prevertebral) muscles of the neck Neck The part of a human or animal body connecting the head to the rest of the body. Peritonsillar Abscess

The function includes anterior and lateral flexion Flexion Examination of the Upper Limbs of the neck Neck The part of a human or animal body connecting the head to the rest of the body. Peritonsillar Abscess and stabilization of the cervical vertebral column Vertebral column The human spine, or vertebral column, is the most important anatomical and functional axis of the human body. It consists of 7 cervical vertebrae, 12 thoracic vertebrae, and 5 lumbar vertebrae and is limited cranially by the skull and caudally by the sacrum. Vertebral Column: Anatomy:

  • Longus capitis
  • Longus colli
  • Rectus capitis anterior
  • Rectus capitis lateralis

Posterior muscles of the neck Neck The part of a human or animal body connecting the head to the rest of the body. Peritonsillar Abscess

Splenius group: bilateral contraction ( extension Extension Examination of the Upper Limbs of the neck Neck The part of a human or animal body connecting the head to the rest of the body. Peritonsillar Abscess) and unilateral contraction (lateral flexion Flexion Examination of the Upper Limbs and ipsilateral rotation Rotation Motion of an object in which either one or more points on a line are fixed. It is also the motion of a particle about a fixed point. X-rays):

  • Splenius capitis
  • Splenius cervicis

Suboccipitals (postural muscles): aid in extension Extension Examination of the Upper Limbs, lateral flexion Flexion Examination of the Upper Limbs, and rotation Rotation Motion of an object in which either one or more points on a line are fixed. It is also the motion of a particle about a fixed point. X-rays of the neck Neck The part of a human or animal body connecting the head to the rest of the body. Peritonsillar Abscess:

  • Rectus capitis posterior major
  • Rectus capitis posterior minor
  • Obliquus capitis inferior
  • Obliquus capitis superior

Transversospinalis group: rotation Rotation Motion of an object in which either one or more points on a line are fixed. It is also the motion of a particle about a fixed point. X-rays and extension Extension Examination of the Upper Limbs of the vertebral column Vertebral column The human spine, or vertebral column, is the most important anatomical and functional axis of the human body. It consists of 7 cervical vertebrae, 12 thoracic vertebrae, and 5 lumbar vertebrae and is limited cranially by the skull and caudally by the sacrum. Vertebral Column: Anatomy:

  • Semispinalis capitis
  • Semispinalis cervicis
  • Rotatores cervicis
  • Interspinales cervicis
  • Intertransversarii

Anterior Neck Muscles

Superficial layer

Table: Superficial layer (anterior neck Neck The part of a human or animal body connecting the head to the rest of the body. Peritonsillar Abscess muscles)
Muscle Origin Insertion Blood supply Innervation Function
Platysma Skin Skin The skin, also referred to as the integumentary system, is the largest organ of the body. The skin is primarily composed of the epidermis (outer layer) and dermis (deep layer). The epidermis is primarily composed of keratinocytes that undergo rapid turnover, while the dermis contains dense layers of connective tissue. Skin: Structure and Functions/ fascia Fascia Layers of connective tissue of variable thickness. The superficial fascia is found immediately below the skin; the deep fascia invests muscles, nerves, and other organs. Cellulitis of the supraclavicular and infraclavicular regions Base of the mandible Mandible The largest and strongest bone of the face constituting the lower jaw. It supports the lower teeth. Jaw and Temporomandibular Joint: Anatomy, the skin Skin The skin, also referred to as the integumentary system, is the largest organ of the body. The skin is primarily composed of the epidermis (outer layer) and dermis (deep layer). The epidermis is primarily composed of keratinocytes that undergo rapid turnover, while the dermis contains dense layers of connective tissue. Skin: Structure and Functions of the cheek/lower lip, the angle of the mouth, and the orbicularis oris Orbicularis oris Facial Muscles: Anatomy Branches of the submental and suprascapular arteries Arteries Arteries are tubular collections of cells that transport oxygenated blood and nutrients from the heart to the tissues of the body. The blood passes through the arteries in order of decreasing luminal diameter, starting in the largest artery (the aorta) and ending in the small arterioles. Arteries are classified into 3 types: large elastic arteries, medium muscular arteries, and small arteries and arterioles. Arteries: Histology Cervical branch of the facial nerve Facial nerve The 7th cranial nerve. The facial nerve has two parts, the larger motor root which may be called the facial nerve proper, and the smaller intermediate or sensory root. Together they provide efferent innervation to the muscles of facial expression and to the lacrimal and salivary glands, and convey afferent information for taste from the anterior two-thirds of the tongue and for touch from the external ear. The 12 Cranial Nerves: Overview and Functions
  • Depresses the mandible Mandible The largest and strongest bone of the face constituting the lower jaw. It supports the lower teeth. Jaw and Temporomandibular Joint: Anatomy and angle of the mouth
  • Tenses the skin Skin The skin, also referred to as the integumentary system, is the largest organ of the body. The skin is primarily composed of the epidermis (outer layer) and dermis (deep layer). The epidermis is primarily composed of keratinocytes that undergo rapid turnover, while the dermis contains dense layers of connective tissue. Skin: Structure and Functions of the lower face and anterior neck Neck The part of a human or animal body connecting the head to the rest of the body. Peritonsillar Abscess
SCM Manubrium Manubrium The upper or most anterior segment of the sternum which articulates with the clavicle and first two pairs of ribs. Chest Wall: Anatomy and medial portion of the clavicle Clavicle A bone on the ventral side of the shoulder girdle, which in humans is commonly called the collar bone. Clavicle Fracture Mastoid process of the temporal bone Bone Bone is a compact type of hardened connective tissue composed of bone cells, membranes, an extracellular mineralized matrix, and central bone marrow. The 2 primary types of bone are compact and spongy. Bones: Structure and Types and superior nuchal line Occipital Occipital Part of the back and base of the cranium that encloses the foramen magnum. Skull: Anatomy and superior thyroid Thyroid The thyroid gland is one of the largest endocrine glands in the human body. The thyroid gland is a highly vascular, brownish-red gland located in the visceral compartment of the anterior region of the neck. Thyroid Gland: Anatomy arteries Arteries Arteries are tubular collections of cells that transport oxygenated blood and nutrients from the heart to the tissues of the body. The blood passes through the arteries in order of decreasing luminal diameter, starting in the largest artery (the aorta) and ending in the small arterioles. Arteries are classified into 3 types: large elastic arteries, medium muscular arteries, and small arteries and arterioles. Arteries: Histology
  • Spinal accessory nerve Spinal accessory nerve The 11th cranial nerve which originates from neurons in the medulla and in the cervical spinal cord. It has a cranial root, which joins the vagus nerve (10th cranial) and sends motor fibers to the muscles of the larynx, and a spinal root, which sends motor fibers to the trapezius and the sternocleidomastoid muscles. The 12 Cranial Nerves: Overview and Functions
  • Anterior rami of spinal nerves Spinal nerves The 31 paired peripheral nerves formed by the union of the dorsal and ventral spinal roots from each spinal cord segment. The spinal nerve plexuses and the spinal roots are also included. Spinal Cord: Anatomy C1–C3
  • Bilaterally: cervical flexion Flexion Examination of the Upper Limbs and elevation of the sternum Sternum A long, narrow, and flat bone commonly known as breastbone occurring in the midsection of the anterior thoracic segment or chest region, which stabilizes the rib cage and serves as the point of origin for several muscles that move the arms, head, and neck. Chest Wall: Anatomy
  • Unilaterally: contralateral rotation Rotation Motion of an object in which either one or more points on a line are fixed. It is also the motion of a particle about a fixed point. X-rays and ipsilateral flexion Flexion Examination of the Upper Limbs
Subclavius 1st rib and cartilage Cartilage Cartilage is a type of connective tissue derived from embryonic mesenchyme that is responsible for structural support, resilience, and the smoothness of physical actions. Perichondrium (connective tissue membrane surrounding cartilage) compensates for the absence of vasculature in cartilage by providing nutrition and support. Cartilage: Histology Subclavian groove of the clavicle Clavicle A bone on the ventral side of the shoulder girdle, which in humans is commonly called the collar bone. Clavicle Fracture  Clavicular branch of the thoracoacromial trunk Subclavian nerve (from the upper trunk of the brachial plexus Brachial Plexus The large network of nerve fibers which distributes the innervation of the upper extremity. The brachial plexus extends from the neck into the axilla. In humans, the nerves of the plexus usually originate from the lower cervical and the first thoracic spinal cord segments (c5-c8 and T1), but variations are not uncommon. Peripheral Nerve Injuries in the Cervicothoracic Region)
  • Depresses the clavicle Clavicle A bone on the ventral side of the shoulder girdle, which in humans is commonly called the collar bone. Clavicle Fracture
  • Elevates the 1st rib
SCM: Sternocleidomastoid
Anterior neck muscles - superficial layer

Anterior neck Neck The part of a human or animal body connecting the head to the rest of the body. Peritonsillar Abscess muscles: superficial layer

Image by BioDigital, edited by Lecturio

Scalenes

Table: Scalenes (anterior neck Neck The part of a human or animal body connecting the head to the rest of the body. Peritonsillar Abscess muscles)
Muscle Origin Insertion Blood supply Innervation Function
Anterior scalene Anterior tubercle of transverse processes of vertebrae C3–C6 Tubercle on the superior border of the 1st rib Ascending cervical artery (branch of the inferior thyroid artery Inferior thyroid artery Thyroid Gland: Anatomy) Anterior rami of spinal nerves Spinal nerves The 31 paired peripheral nerves formed by the union of the dorsal and ventral spinal roots from each spinal cord segment. The spinal nerve plexuses and the spinal roots are also included. Spinal Cord: Anatomy C4–C6
Medial (middle) scalene Posterior tubercles of the transverse processes of vertebrae C3–C7 Superior border of the 1st rib Anterior rami of spinal nerves Spinal nerves The 31 paired peripheral nerves formed by the union of the dorsal and ventral spinal roots from each spinal cord segment. The spinal nerve plexuses and the spinal roots are also included. Spinal Cord: Anatomy C3–C8
Posterior scalene Posterior tubercles of the transverse processes of vertebrae C5–C7 External surface of the 2nd rib Anterior rami of spinal nerves Spinal nerves The 31 paired peripheral nerves formed by the union of the dorsal and ventral spinal roots from each spinal cord segment. The spinal nerve plexuses and the spinal roots are also included. Spinal Cord: Anatomy C6–C8

Suprahyoids

Table: Suprahyoids (anterior neck Neck The part of a human or animal body connecting the head to the rest of the body. Peritonsillar Abscess muscles)
Muscle Origin Insertion Blood supply Innervation Function
Digastric
  • Anterior belly: digastric fossa of the mandible Mandible The largest and strongest bone of the face constituting the lower jaw. It supports the lower teeth. Jaw and Temporomandibular Joint: Anatomy
  • Posterior belly: mastoid notch of the temporal bone Bone Bone is a compact type of hardened connective tissue composed of bone cells, membranes, an extracellular mineralized matrix, and central bone marrow. The 2 primary types of bone are compact and spongy. Bones: Structure and Types
Intermediate tendon on the body of the hyoid bone Bone Bone is a compact type of hardened connective tissue composed of bone cells, membranes, an extracellular mineralized matrix, and central bone marrow. The 2 primary types of bone are compact and spongy. Bones: Structure and Types
  • Anterior belly: submental branch of the facial artery
  • Posterior belly: occipital Occipital Part of the back and base of the cranium that encloses the foramen magnum. Skull: Anatomy artery
  • Anterior belly: mandibular division of the trigeminal nerve Trigeminal nerve The 5th and largest cranial nerve. The trigeminal nerve is a mixed motor and sensory nerve. The larger sensory part forms the ophthalmic, mandibular, and maxillary nerves which carry afferents sensitive to external or internal stimuli from the skin, muscles, and joints of the face and mouth and from the teeth. Most of these fibers originate from cells of the trigeminal ganglion and project to the trigeminal nucleus of the brain stem. The smaller motor part arises from the brain stem trigeminal motor nucleus and innervates the muscles of mastication. The 12 Cranial Nerves: Overview and Functions
  • Posterior belly: facial nerve Facial nerve The 7th cranial nerve. The facial nerve has two parts, the larger motor root which may be called the facial nerve proper, and the smaller intermediate or sensory root. Together they provide efferent innervation to the muscles of facial expression and to the lacrimal and salivary glands, and convey afferent information for taste from the anterior two-thirds of the tongue and for touch from the external ear. The 12 Cranial Nerves: Overview and Functions
Opens the jaw Jaw The jaw is made up of the mandible, which comprises the lower jaw, and the maxilla, which comprises the upper jaw. The mandible articulates with the temporal bone via the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). The 4 muscles of mastication produce the movements of the TMJ to ensure the efficient chewing of food. Jaw and Temporomandibular Joint: Anatomy when the masseter Masseter A masticatory muscle whose action is closing the jaws. Jaw and Temporomandibular Joint: Anatomy and temporalis Temporalis A masticatory muscle whose action is closing the jaws; its posterior portion retracts the mandible. Jaw and Temporomandibular Joint: Anatomy are relaxed
Mylohyoid Mylohyoid line of the mandible Mandible The largest and strongest bone of the face constituting the lower jaw. It supports the lower teeth. Jaw and Temporomandibular Joint: Anatomy Body of the hyoid bone Bone Bone is a compact type of hardened connective tissue composed of bone cells, membranes, an extracellular mineralized matrix, and central bone marrow. The 2 primary types of bone are compact and spongy. Bones: Structure and Types and median Median After arranging the data from loWest to highest, the median is the middle value, separating the lower half from the upper half of the data set. Measures of Central Tendency and Dispersion ridge Submental artery and branch of the inferior alveolar artery Mylohyoid nerve: branch of the mandibular nerve Mandibular nerve A branch of the trigeminal (5th cranial) nerve. The mandibular nerve carries motor fibers to the muscles of mastication and sensory fibers to the teeth and gingivae, the face in the region of the mandible, and parts of the dura. Jaw and Temporomandibular Joint: Anatomy
  • Raises the oral cavity floor, hyoid, and tongue Tongue The tongue, on the other hand, is a complex muscular structure that permits tasting and facilitates the process of mastication and communication. The blood supply of the tongue originates from the external carotid artery, and the innervation is through cranial nerves. Lips and Tongue: Anatomy
  • Depresses the mandible Mandible The largest and strongest bone of the face constituting the lower jaw. It supports the lower teeth. Jaw and Temporomandibular Joint: Anatomy
Geniohyoid Inferior mental spine Spine The human spine, or vertebral column, is the most important anatomical and functional axis of the human body. It consists of 7 cervical vertebrae, 12 thoracic vertebrae, and 5 lumbar vertebrae and is limited cranially by the skull and caudally by the sacrum. Vertebral Column: Anatomy of the mandible Mandible The largest and strongest bone of the face constituting the lower jaw. It supports the lower teeth. Jaw and Temporomandibular Joint: Anatomy Anterior surface of the hyoid bone Bone Bone is a compact type of hardened connective tissue composed of bone cells, membranes, an extracellular mineralized matrix, and central bone marrow. The 2 primary types of bone are compact and spongy. Bones: Structure and Types Branches of the lingual artery Lingual artery Lips and Tongue: Anatomy Hypoglossal nerve Hypoglossal nerve The 12th cranial nerve. The hypoglossal nerve originates in the hypoglossal nucleus of the medulla and supplies motor innervation to all of the muscles of the tongue except the palatoglossus (which is supplied by the vagus). This nerve also contains proprioceptive afferents from the tongue muscles. Lips and Tongue: Anatomy (C1) Raises the hyoid and tongue Tongue The tongue, on the other hand, is a complex muscular structure that permits tasting and facilitates the process of mastication and communication. The blood supply of the tongue originates from the external carotid artery, and the innervation is through cranial nerves. Lips and Tongue: Anatomy during swallowing Swallowing The act of taking solids and liquids into the gastrointestinal tract through the mouth and throat. Gastrointestinal Motility
Stylohyoid Styloid process of the temporal bone Bone Bone is a compact type of hardened connective tissue composed of bone cells, membranes, an extracellular mineralized matrix, and central bone marrow. The 2 primary types of bone are compact and spongy. Bones: Structure and Types Greater cornu of the hyoid bone Bone Bone is a compact type of hardened connective tissue composed of bone cells, membranes, an extracellular mineralized matrix, and central bone marrow. The 2 primary types of bone are compact and spongy. Bones: Structure and Types Branches of the posterior auricular and lingual arteries Arteries Arteries are tubular collections of cells that transport oxygenated blood and nutrients from the heart to the tissues of the body. The blood passes through the arteries in order of decreasing luminal diameter, starting in the largest artery (the aorta) and ending in the small arterioles. Arteries are classified into 3 types: large elastic arteries, medium muscular arteries, and small arteries and arterioles. Arteries: Histology Facial nerve Facial nerve The 7th cranial nerve. The facial nerve has two parts, the larger motor root which may be called the facial nerve proper, and the smaller intermediate or sensory root. Together they provide efferent innervation to the muscles of facial expression and to the lacrimal and salivary glands, and convey afferent information for taste from the anterior two-thirds of the tongue and for touch from the external ear. The 12 Cranial Nerves: Overview and Functions Raises the hyoid during swallowing Swallowing The act of taking solids and liquids into the gastrointestinal tract through the mouth and throat. Gastrointestinal Motility
Suprahyoid muscles

Suprahyoid muscles: digastric, mylohyoid, and stylohyoid.
The muscles are superficial to the geniohyoid muscle.

Image by BioDigital, edited by Lecturio

Infrahyoids

Table: Infrahyoids (anterior neck Neck The part of a human or animal body connecting the head to the rest of the body. Peritonsillar Abscess muscles)
Muscle Origin Insertion Blood supply Innervation Function
Sternohyoid Manubrium Manubrium The upper or most anterior segment of the sternum which articulates with the clavicle and first two pairs of ribs. Chest Wall: Anatomy of the sternum Sternum A long, narrow, and flat bone commonly known as breastbone occurring in the midsection of the anterior thoracic segment or chest region, which stabilizes the rib cage and serves as the point of origin for several muscles that move the arms, head, and neck. Chest Wall: Anatomy Lower border of the body of the hyoid Superior thyroid artery Superior thyroid artery Thyroid Gland: Anatomy Branch of ansa cervicalis (C1–C3) Depresses the hyoid
Thyrohyoid Thyroid Thyroid The thyroid gland is one of the largest endocrine glands in the human body. The thyroid gland is a highly vascular, brownish-red gland located in the visceral compartment of the anterior region of the neck. Thyroid Gland: Anatomy cartilage Cartilage Cartilage is a type of connective tissue derived from embryonic mesenchyme that is responsible for structural support, resilience, and the smoothness of physical actions. Perichondrium (connective tissue membrane surrounding cartilage) compensates for the absence of vasculature in cartilage by providing nutrition and support. Cartilage: Histology Greater cornu of the hyoid bone Bone Bone is a compact type of hardened connective tissue composed of bone cells, membranes, an extracellular mineralized matrix, and central bone marrow. The 2 primary types of bone are compact and spongy. Bones: Structure and Types Superior thyroid artery Superior thyroid artery Thyroid Gland: Anatomy Hypoglossal nerve Hypoglossal nerve The 12th cranial nerve. The hypoglossal nerve originates in the hypoglossal nucleus of the medulla and supplies motor innervation to all of the muscles of the tongue except the palatoglossus (which is supplied by the vagus). This nerve also contains proprioceptive afferents from the tongue muscles. Lips and Tongue: Anatomy (C1) Elevates the thyroid Thyroid The thyroid gland is one of the largest endocrine glands in the human body. The thyroid gland is a highly vascular, brownish-red gland located in the visceral compartment of the anterior region of the neck. Thyroid Gland: Anatomy and lowers the hyoid
Omohyoid
  • Inferior belly: upper border of the scapula
  • Superior belly: intermediate tendon
  • Inferior belly: intermediate tendon
  • Superior belly: hyoid
Inferior thyroid artery Inferior thyroid artery Thyroid Gland: Anatomy Ansa cervicalis (C1–C3)
  • Lowers the hyoid and larynx Larynx The larynx, also commonly called the voice box, is a cylindrical space located in the neck at the level of the C3-C6 vertebrae. The major structures forming the framework of the larynx are the thyroid cartilage, cricoid cartilage, and epiglottis. The larynx serves to produce sound (phonation), conducts air to the trachea, and prevents large molecules from reaching the lungs. Larynx: Anatomy
  • Pushes the hyoid posterolaterally
Infrahyoids

Infrahyoids: thyrohyoid, sternohyoid, and omohyoid

Image by BioDigital, edited by Lecturio

Related videos

Lateral (Prevertebral) Neck Muscles

Table: Lateral neck Neck The part of a human or animal body connecting the head to the rest of the body. Peritonsillar Abscess muscles
Muscle Origin Insertion Blood supply Innervation Function
Longus capitis Anterior tubercles of the transverse processes of the 3rd–6th cervical vertebrae Cervical vertebrae The first seven vertebrae of the spinal column, which correspond to the vertebrae of the neck. Vertebral Column: Anatomy Basilar part of the occipital Occipital Part of the back and base of the cranium that encloses the foramen magnum. Skull: Anatomy bone Bone Bone is a compact type of hardened connective tissue composed of bone cells, membranes, an extracellular mineralized matrix, and central bone marrow. The 2 primary types of bone are compact and spongy. Bones: Structure and Types Branches of the ascending cervical and inferior thyroid Thyroid The thyroid gland is one of the largest endocrine glands in the human body. The thyroid gland is a highly vascular, brownish-red gland located in the visceral compartment of the anterior region of the neck. Thyroid Gland: Anatomy arteries Arteries Arteries are tubular collections of cells that transport oxygenated blood and nutrients from the heart to the tissues of the body. The blood passes through the arteries in order of decreasing luminal diameter, starting in the largest artery (the aorta) and ending in the small arterioles. Arteries are classified into 3 types: large elastic arteries, medium muscular arteries, and small arteries and arterioles. Arteries: Histology Nerves C1–C3/C4 Flexes the neck Neck The part of a human or animal body connecting the head to the rest of the body. Peritonsillar Abscess at the atlantooccipital joint
Longus colli Transverse processes of C5– T3 T3 A T3 thyroid hormone normally synthesized and secreted by the thyroid gland in much smaller quantities than thyroxine (T4). Most T3 is derived from peripheral monodeiodination of T4 at the 5′ position of the outer ring of the iodothyronine nucleus. The hormone finally delivered and used by the tissues is mainly t3. Thyroid Hormones Anterior arch of the atlas Atlas The first cervical vertebra. Vertebral Column: Anatomy Ascending pharyngeal and vertebral arteries Arteries Arteries are tubular collections of cells that transport oxygenated blood and nutrients from the heart to the tissues of the body. The blood passes through the arteries in order of decreasing luminal diameter, starting in the largest artery (the aorta) and ending in the small arterioles. Arteries are classified into 3 types: large elastic arteries, medium muscular arteries, and small arteries and arterioles. Arteries: Histology Nerves C2–C6 Flexes the neck Neck The part of a human or animal body connecting the head to the rest of the body. Peritonsillar Abscess and head
Rectus capitis anterior Anterior surface of the lateral mass Mass Three-dimensional lesion that occupies a space within the breast Imaging of the Breast of the atlas Atlas The first cervical vertebra. Vertebral Column: Anatomy Basilar part of the occipital Occipital Part of the back and base of the cranium that encloses the foramen magnum. Skull: Anatomy bone Bone Bone is a compact type of hardened connective tissue composed of bone cells, membranes, an extracellular mineralized matrix, and central bone marrow. The 2 primary types of bone are compact and spongy. Bones: Structure and Types Ascending pharyngeal artery Ventral primary rami of spinal nerves Spinal nerves The 31 paired peripheral nerves formed by the union of the dorsal and ventral spinal roots from each spinal cord segment. The spinal nerve plexuses and the spinal roots are also included. Spinal Cord: Anatomy C1–C2 Flexion Flexion Examination of the Upper Limbs of the neck Neck The part of a human or animal body connecting the head to the rest of the body. Peritonsillar Abscess at the atlantooccipital joint
Rectus capitis lateralis Upper surface of the transverse process of the atlas Atlas The first cervical vertebra. Vertebral Column: Anatomy Inferior surface of the jugular process of the occipital Occipital Part of the back and base of the cranium that encloses the foramen magnum. Skull: Anatomy bone Bone Bone is a compact type of hardened connective tissue composed of bone cells, membranes, an extracellular mineralized matrix, and central bone marrow. The 2 primary types of bone are compact and spongy. Bones: Structure and Types Ascending cervical artery Nerves C1–C2 Lateral flexion Flexion Examination of the Upper Limbs, stabilizes the atlantooccipital joint
Lateral neck muscles: rectus capitis lateralis and rectus capitis anterior

Lateral neck Neck The part of a human or animal body connecting the head to the rest of the body. Peritonsillar Abscess muscles: The rectus capitis lateralis and rectus capitis anterior flex the head and neck Neck The part of a human or animal body connecting the head to the rest of the body. Peritonsillar Abscess and stabilize the atlantooccipital joint.

Image by BioDigital, edited by Lecturio

Posterior Neck Muscles

Splenius group

Table: Splenius group (posterior neck Neck The part of a human or animal body connecting the head to the rest of the body. Peritonsillar Abscess muscles)
Muscle Origin Insertion Blood supply Innervation Function
Splenius capitis Nuchal ligament and spinous process of C7– T3 T3 A T3 thyroid hormone normally synthesized and secreted by the thyroid gland in much smaller quantities than thyroxine (T4). Most T3 is derived from peripheral monodeiodination of T4 at the 5′ position of the outer ring of the iodothyronine nucleus. The hormone finally delivered and used by the tissues is mainly t3. Thyroid Hormones Mastoid process of the temporal and occipital Occipital Part of the back and base of the cranium that encloses the foramen magnum. Skull: Anatomy bones Branches of the occipital Occipital Part of the back and base of the cranium that encloses the foramen magnum. Skull: Anatomy artery: branch of the external carotid artery External carotid artery Branch of the common carotid artery which supplies the exterior of the head, the face, and the greater part of the neck. Carotid Arterial System: Anatomy Posterior ramus of spinal nerves Spinal nerves The 31 paired peripheral nerves formed by the union of the dorsal and ventral spinal roots from each spinal cord segment. The spinal nerve plexuses and the spinal roots are also included. Spinal Cord: Anatomy C3–C4 Extends, rotates, and laterally flexes the head
Splenius cervicis Spinous processes of T3 T3 A T3 thyroid hormone normally synthesized and secreted by the thyroid gland in much smaller quantities than thyroxine (T4). Most T3 is derived from peripheral monodeiodination of T4 at the 5′ position of the outer ring of the iodothyronine nucleus. The hormone finally delivered and used by the tissues is mainly t3. Thyroid Hormones–T6 Transverse processes of C1–C3 Transverse cervical and occipital Occipital Part of the back and base of the cranium that encloses the foramen magnum. Skull: Anatomy arteries Arteries Arteries are tubular collections of cells that transport oxygenated blood and nutrients from the heart to the tissues of the body. The blood passes through the arteries in order of decreasing luminal diameter, starting in the largest artery (the aorta) and ending in the small arterioles. Arteries are classified into 3 types: large elastic arteries, medium muscular arteries, and small arteries and arterioles. Arteries: Histology Posterior rami of the lower cervical spinal nerves Spinal nerves The 31 paired peripheral nerves formed by the union of the dorsal and ventral spinal roots from each spinal cord segment. The spinal nerve plexuses and the spinal roots are also included. Spinal Cord: Anatomy
  • Bilaterally: extends the head and neck Neck The part of a human or animal body connecting the head to the rest of the body. Peritonsillar Abscess
  • Unilaterally: ipsilateral flexion Flexion Examination of the Upper Limbs and rotation Rotation Motion of an object in which either one or more points on a line are fixed. It is also the motion of a particle about a fixed point. X-rays
Superficial layer of the intrinsic back muscles

Splenius capitis and splenius cervicis muscles

Image by BioDigital, edited by Lecturio

Suboccipitals

Table: Suboccipitals (posterior neck Neck The part of a human or animal body connecting the head to the rest of the body. Peritonsillar Abscess muscles)
Muscle Origin Insertion Blood supply Innervation Function
Rectus capitis posterior major Spinous process of the axis Axis The second cervical vertebra. Vertebral Column: Anatomy (C2) Inferior nuchal line of the occipital Occipital Part of the back and base of the cranium that encloses the foramen magnum. Skull: Anatomy bone Bone Bone is a compact type of hardened connective tissue composed of bone cells, membranes, an extracellular mineralized matrix, and central bone marrow. The 2 primary types of bone are compact and spongy. Bones: Structure and Types Vertebral artery Vertebral artery The first branch of the subclavian artery with distribution to muscles of the neck; vertebrae; spinal cord; cerebellum; and interior of the cerebrum. Lateral Medullary Syndrome (Wallenberg Syndrome), deep descending branch of the occipital Occipital Part of the back and base of the cranium that encloses the foramen magnum. Skull: Anatomy artery Dorsal ramus of C1, suboccipital nerve Ipsilateral rotation Rotation Motion of an object in which either one or more points on a line are fixed. It is also the motion of a particle about a fixed point. X-rays and extension Extension Examination of the Upper Limbs of the head
Rectus capitis posterior minor Tubercle on the posterior arch of the atlas Atlas The first cervical vertebra. Vertebral Column: Anatomy (C1) Medial part of the inferior nuchal line of the occipital Occipital Part of the back and base of the cranium that encloses the foramen magnum. Skull: Anatomy bone Bone Bone is a compact type of hardened connective tissue composed of bone cells, membranes, an extracellular mineralized matrix, and central bone marrow. The 2 primary types of bone are compact and spongy. Bones: Structure and Types Extends the head at the neck Neck The part of a human or animal body connecting the head to the rest of the body. Peritonsillar Abscess
Obliquus capitis inferior Spinous process of the axis Axis The second cervical vertebra. Vertebral Column: Anatomy Lateral mass Mass Three-dimensional lesion that occupies a space within the breast Imaging of the Breast of the atlas Atlas The first cervical vertebra. Vertebral Column: Anatomy Rotation Rotation Motion of an object in which either one or more points on a line are fixed. It is also the motion of a particle about a fixed point. X-rays of the head and neck Neck The part of a human or animal body connecting the head to the rest of the body. Peritonsillar Abscess
Obliquus capitis superior Lateral mass Mass Three-dimensional lesion that occupies a space within the breast Imaging of the Breast of the atlas Atlas The first cervical vertebra. Vertebral Column: Anatomy Lateral half of the inferior nuchal line Extends and ipsilaterally flexes the head
Suboccipital neck muscles

Suboccipital neck Neck The part of a human or animal body connecting the head to the rest of the body. Peritonsillar Abscess muscles

Image by BioDigital, edited by Lecturio

Transversospinalis group

Table: Transversospinalis group (posterior neck Neck The part of a human or animal body connecting the head to the rest of the body. Peritonsillar Abscess muscles)
Muscle Origin Insertion Blood supply Innervation Function
Semispinalis capitis
  • Articular processes of C4–C7
  • Transverse processes of T1–T6
Between the superior and inferior nuchal lines of the occipital Occipital Part of the back and base of the cranium that encloses the foramen magnum. Skull: Anatomy bone Bone Bone is a compact type of hardened connective tissue composed of bone cells, membranes, an extracellular mineralized matrix, and central bone marrow. The 2 primary types of bone are compact and spongy. Bones: Structure and Types Branches of the occipital Occipital Part of the back and base of the cranium that encloses the foramen magnum. Skull: Anatomy and superior intercostal arteries Arteries Arteries are tubular collections of cells that transport oxygenated blood and nutrients from the heart to the tissues of the body. The blood passes through the arteries in order of decreasing luminal diameter, starting in the largest artery (the aorta) and ending in the small arterioles. Arteries are classified into 3 types: large elastic arteries, medium muscular arteries, and small arteries and arterioles. Arteries: Histology Branches of the greater occipital Occipital Part of the back and base of the cranium that encloses the foramen magnum. Skull: Anatomy nerve (C2) and spinal nerve (C3)
  • Bilaterally: head and cervical extension Extension Examination of the Upper Limbs
  • Unilaterally: ipsilateral flexion Flexion Examination of the Upper Limbs of the head and cervical spine Spine The human spine, or vertebral column, is the most important anatomical and functional axis of the human body. It consists of 7 cervical vertebrae, 12 thoracic vertebrae, and 5 lumbar vertebrae and is limited cranially by the skull and caudally by the sacrum. Vertebral Column: Anatomy and contralateral rotation Rotation Motion of an object in which either one or more points on a line are fixed. It is also the motion of a particle about a fixed point. X-rays
Semispinalis cervicis Transverse processes of T1–T6 Spinous processes of C2–C5 Deep cervical artery Dorsal rami of cervical spinal nerves Spinal nerves The 31 paired peripheral nerves formed by the union of the dorsal and ventral spinal roots from each spinal cord segment. The spinal nerve plexuses and the spinal roots are also included. Spinal Cord: Anatomy
  • Bilaterally: extension Extension Examination of the Upper Limbs of the cervical spine Spine The human spine, or vertebral column, is the most important anatomical and functional axis of the human body. It consists of 7 cervical vertebrae, 12 thoracic vertebrae, and 5 lumbar vertebrae and is limited cranially by the skull and caudally by the sacrum. Vertebral Column: Anatomy
  • Unilaterally: lateral flexion Flexion Examination of the Upper Limbs of the neck Neck The part of a human or animal body connecting the head to the rest of the body. Peritonsillar Abscess and rotation Rotation Motion of an object in which either one or more points on a line are fixed. It is also the motion of a particle about a fixed point. X-rays to the opposite side
Rotatores cervicis Transverse processes
  • Junction of the transverse process and lamina
  • Spinous processes
Vertebral and occipital Occipital Part of the back and base of the cranium that encloses the foramen magnum. Skull: Anatomy arteries Arteries Arteries are tubular collections of cells that transport oxygenated blood and nutrients from the heart to the tissues of the body. The blood passes through the arteries in order of decreasing luminal diameter, starting in the largest artery (the aorta) and ending in the small arterioles. Arteries are classified into 3 types: large elastic arteries, medium muscular arteries, and small arteries and arterioles. Arteries: Histology Postural control
Interspinales cervicis Side of the apex of the spinous process of C3–T1 Side of the apex of the spinous process of C2–C7 Extension Extension Examination of the Upper Limbs of the spine Spine The human spine, or vertebral column, is the most important anatomical and functional axis of the human body. It consists of 7 cervical vertebrae, 12 thoracic vertebrae, and 5 lumbar vertebrae and is limited cranially by the skull and caudally by the sacrum. Vertebral Column: Anatomy
Intertransversarii 7 pairs of transverse processes: 1 pair between the atlas Atlas The first cervical vertebra. Vertebral Column: Anatomy and the axis Axis The second cervical vertebra. Vertebral Column: Anatomy; the remaining pairs between C7 and T1 Vertebral arteries Arteries Arteries are tubular collections of cells that transport oxygenated blood and nutrients from the heart to the tissues of the body. The blood passes through the arteries in order of decreasing luminal diameter, starting in the largest artery (the aorta) and ending in the small arterioles. Arteries are classified into 3 types: large elastic arteries, medium muscular arteries, and small arteries and arterioles. Arteries: Histology Anterior rami of the spinal nerves Spinal nerves The 31 paired peripheral nerves formed by the union of the dorsal and ventral spinal roots from each spinal cord segment. The spinal nerve plexuses and the spinal roots are also included. Spinal Cord: Anatomy Lateral flexion Flexion Examination of the Upper Limbs of the neck Neck The part of a human or animal body connecting the head to the rest of the body. Peritonsillar Abscess

Clinical Relevance

  • Torticollis Torticollis A symptom, not a disease, of a twisted neck. In most instances, the head is tipped toward one side and the chin rotated toward the other. The involuntary muscle contractions in the neck region of patients with torticollis can be due to congenital defects, trauma, inflammation, tumors, and neurological or other factors. Cranial Nerve Palsies (also known as wry neck Neck The part of a human or animal body connecting the head to the rest of the body. Peritonsillar Abscess): an abnormal, asymmetrical head or neck Neck The part of a human or animal body connecting the head to the rest of the body. Peritonsillar Abscess position due to trauma, muscle tone Muscle tone The state of activity or tension of a muscle beyond that related to its physical properties, that is, its active resistance to stretch. In skeletal muscle, tonus is dependent upon efferent innervation. Skeletal Muscle Contraction disorders, congenital Congenital Chorioretinitis muscle tightness, or extrinsic masses. Torticollis Torticollis A symptom, not a disease, of a twisted neck. In most instances, the head is tipped toward one side and the chin rotated toward the other. The involuntary muscle contractions in the neck region of patients with torticollis can be due to congenital defects, trauma, inflammation, tumors, and neurological or other factors. Cranial Nerve Palsies is characterized by abnormal tone or length of the cervical muscles. Even without treatment, the pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways usually goes away after a few days. Torticollis Torticollis A symptom, not a disease, of a twisted neck. In most instances, the head is tipped toward one side and the chin rotated toward the other. The involuntary muscle contractions in the neck region of patients with torticollis can be due to congenital defects, trauma, inflammation, tumors, and neurological or other factors. Cranial Nerve Palsies is predominantly a clinical diagnosis and management includes physical therapy Physical Therapy Becker Muscular Dystrophy and dystonia Dystonia Dystonia is a hyperkinetic movement disorder characterized by the involuntary contraction of muscles, resulting in abnormal postures or twisting and repetitive movements. Dystonia can present in various ways as may affect many different skeletal muscle groups. Dystonia medication.
  • Triangles of the neck Triangles of the neck The neck is bound by the mandible, upper border of the clavicle, midline of the neck, and anterior margin of the trapezius. This space is divided into an anterior and posterior triangle by the sternocleidomastoid muscle (SCM). The anterior and posterior triangles are the two primary subdivisions and are delineated by easily recognized anatomic structures. Triangles of the Neck: Anatomy: The neck Neck The part of a human or animal body connecting the head to the rest of the body. Peritonsillar Abscess is quadrangular. The boundaries of the quadrangular shape include the mandible Mandible The largest and strongest bone of the face constituting the lower jaw. It supports the lower teeth. Jaw and Temporomandibular Joint: Anatomy, the upper border of the clavicle Clavicle A bone on the ventral side of the shoulder girdle, which in humans is commonly called the collar bone. Clavicle Fracture, the midline, and the anterior margin of the trapezius. The quadrangular shape is divided into an anterior and posterior triangle Posterior triangle Triangles of the Neck: Anatomy by the SCM muscle. The anterior triangle Anterior Triangle Triangles of the Neck: Anatomy is further subdivided into the muscular (omotracheal) triangle, the carotid triangle Carotid triangle Triangles of the Neck: Anatomy, the submandibular triangle Submandibular triangle Triangles of the Neck: Anatomy, and the submental triangle Submental triangle Triangles of the Neck: Anatomy. The posterior triangle Posterior triangle Triangles of the Neck: Anatomy is further subdivided into the occipital triangle Occipital triangle Triangles of the Neck: Anatomy and the supraclavicular (omoclavicular) triangle. The triangles are again subdivided into the anterior and posterior triangles, and then further divided. The triangles serve as anatomic landmarks for many important structures (e.g., the carotid sheath and the spinal accessory nerve Spinal accessory nerve The 11th cranial nerve which originates from neurons in the medulla and in the cervical spinal cord. It has a cranial root, which joins the vagus nerve (10th cranial) and sends motor fibers to the muscles of the larynx, and a spinal root, which sends motor fibers to the trapezius and the sternocleidomastoid muscles. The 12 Cranial Nerves: Overview and Functions).

References

  1. Richard L. Drake, et al. (Ed.) 2020. Neck. In Richard L. Drake, et al. (Ed.), GRAY’S ANATOMY FOR STUDENTS (4th ed., pp. 995–1006).
  2. Moore, K. L., et al. (Ed.) (2014). Neck. In Moore, K. L., et al. (Ed.), Clinically Oriented Anatomy (7th ed., pp. 989–1007).
  3. Khan, Y. S. Bordoni, B. (2021). Anatomy, Head and Neck, Suprahyoid Muscle. StatPearls. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK546710/
  4. George, T. Tadi, P. (2021). Anatomy, Head and Neck, Suboccipital Muscles. StatPearls. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK567762/

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