Muscle Review: The Suboccipitals

Image Credit - Anatomography - CC BY-SA 2.1 jp,

Image Credit - Anatomography - CC BY-SA 2.1 jp,

Muscle Review : Sub-Occipitals

  • Rectus capitis posterior major goes from the spinous process of the axis (C2) to the occipital bone.

  • Rectus capitis posterior minor goes from the middle of the posterior arch of the atlas to the occiput.

  • Obliquus capitis superior goes from the transverse process of the atlas to the occiput.

  • Obliquus capitis inferior goes from the spine of the axis vertebra to the transverse process of the atlas.

Continuous Structures

The Rectus Capitis Posterior minor (RCPmi) is connected to the cervical spinal dura mater via the Myodural Bridge (MDB) through the posterior antlanto-occipital interspace.

Conditions Specific to Suboccipitals

Occipital neuralgia - Characterized by chronic pain in the upper neck, back of the head and behind the eyes. These areas correspond to the locations of the lesser, greater and dorsal occipital nerves.

More to Explore

Enix, D.E., Scali, F., Pontell, M.E. (2014) The cervical myodural bridge, a review of literature and clinical implications. J Can Chiropr Assoc.

Fakhran, S., Qu, C., & Alhilali, L. M. (2016). Effect of the Suboccipital Musculature on Symptom Severity and Recovery after Mild Traumatic Brain Injury. American Journal of Neuroradiology.

Luedtke, K., May, A. (2017). Stratifying migraine patients based on dynamic pain provocation over the upper cervical spine. J Headache Pain. (OPEN ACCESS)

Palomeque-Del-Cerro, L., Arráez-Aybar, L. A., Rodríguez-Blanco, C., Guzmán-García, R., Menendez-Aparicio, M., & Oliva-Pascual-Vaca, Á. (2016). A Systematic Review of the Soft-Tissue Connections Between Neck Muscles and Dura Mater. Spine. 

Simon, M. J., & Iliff, J. J. (2016). Regulation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) flow in neurodegenerative, neurovascular and neuroinflammatory disease. Biochimica Et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Molecular Basis of Disease.

Xu, Q., Yu, S., Zheng, N., Yuan, X., Chi, Y., Liu, C., . . . Sui, H. (2016). Head movement, an important contributor to human cerebrospinal fluid circulation. Scientific Reports.

Yuan, X., Yu, S., Liu, C., Xu, Q., Zheng, N., Zhang, J., . . . Sui, H. (2016). Correlation between chronic headaches and the rectus capitis posterior minor muscle: A comparative analysis of cross-sectional trail. Cephalalgia.