Trigger Point: Splenius Muscles

Please be sure to refer to What Are Trigger Points and How To Release Trigger Points when working on trigger points at home. As always, please consult with your primary care physician prior to any type of treatment.

Splenius: Muscular Origins, Insertions, Actions, and Nerve Innervations

The splenius muscles are located along the back of the neck down into the upper back. They can easily be palpated between the upper trapezius and sternocleidomastoid muscles. There are two main muscle bellies within the splenius group: splenius capitis and splenius cervicis. The splenius capitis muscle originates at the ligamentum nuchae and the spinous processes of vertebrae C-7 thru T-3 and inserts into the mastoid process and lateral nuchal line. Splenius cervicis originates from the spinous processes of vertebrae T-3 thru T-6 and inserts into the transverse processes of the upper cervical vertebrae.

When contracted together, these muscles work to extend the head and neck. When contracted separately, they rotate the head to the same side as the muscle that is firing, and they can also laterally flex the head and neck.

The main nerves associated with these muscles are the branches of the dorsal division of the cervical.

Splenius Muscles Trigger Points: Location and Possible Symptoms
When a trigger point is active in the splenius capitis muscle, you may feel pain at the top of the head. Trigger points in the splenius cervicis muscle can pain that starts at the base of the skull and emanates through the head to the back of the eye. Active trigger points in these muscles can feel not just dull and achy, but can also create a painful pulsing sensation inside the skull. These trigger points have also been known to cause blurred vision.

Not only are these trigger points associated with tension headaches, they are also commonly associated with migraines.

Corinne D. Bracko-Douglas, CMT, LMT, CKTP is the owner of Dochas Clinical Massage Therapy based out of Columbia, MO. She received her diploma in Clinical Massage Therapy from The Soma Institute in Chicago, IL in 2004. She enjoys teaching others about how to live a healthy lifestyle and still works one on one with clients out of her private clinic. When not working as a therapist she can be found enjoying trail hikes with her wonderful husband, Lee, and their adorable doggos, Shadow and Koda, or trying out fun new workouts to expand her knowledge of the human body and how it functions.

The advice given in these articles is not meant to diagnose. Please always consult with a health care provider before performing any of the techniques described upon yourself.


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