Greater occipital nerve

A.Prof Frank Gaillard and Dr Craig Hacking et al.

The greater occipital nerve is a spinal nerve that innervates the skin of the occiput and upper neck.

Gross anatomy


The greater occipital nerve arises from the medial branch of the dorsal ramus of C2.


The greater occipital nerve emerges between axis (C2) and the obliquus capitis inferior muscle, hooking underneath the later before ascending and piercing trapezius. It continues to ascend to the occiput.

Branches and supply

It may divide into several branches before piercing trapezius. It supplies the skin over the occipital bone and the upper posterior neck.


The greater occipital nerve runs with the occipital artery in the apex of the posterior triangle.

Head and neck anatomy
Share article

Article information

rID: 53440
System: Head & Neck
Section: Anatomy
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:

Support Radiopaedia and see fewer ads

Updating… Please wait.

Alert accept

Error Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

Alert accept Thank you for updating your details.