Suboccipital muscle group
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The suboccipital muscle group contains four paired muscles, three of which pairs belong to the suboccipital triangle. These muscles all lie below the occipital bone and are responsible for postural support of the head, as well as extension, lateral flexion and rotation. As these muscles are small and act in unison, they will be discussed in this single article, rather than individual articles.
The suboccipital triangle is paired and consists of three muscles: rectus capitis posterior major, obliquus capitis superior, and obliquus capitis inferior. The function of the muscles in this triangle are to extend and rotate the head.
- rectus capitis posterior major muscle
- obliquus capitis superior muscle
- obliquus capitis inferior muscle
The floor is formed by the posterior arch of the atlas and the posterior atlantooccipital membrane. The roof is the semispinalis muscle, greater occipital nerve (C2), occipital artery. The triangle contains the vertebral artery and suboccipital nerve (C1).
The rectus capitis posterior minor is separate from the suboccipital triangle and lies deep to the rectus capitis posterior major.
- rectus capitis posterior minor muscle
- suboccipital nerve: dorsal ramus of the first cervical spinal nerve
Whiplash injuries can cause muscle spasm and disruption between the normal agonist-antagonist relationship between the left and right suboccipital muscle groups 4.
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