Treating Splenius Trigger Points - Stuart Hinds
The splenius muscles are prone to trigger points - but often overlooked as they can be difficult to reach
Technically speaking the splenius capitis and cervicis muscles form part of the deep (or intrinsic) muscles of the back. These are broad strips of muscle that run up the back of the neck, deep to the Sternocleidomastoid (SCM).
These back/neck muscles are active as they are work both together and independently to extend the head and neck.
The splenius muscles are very prone to developing trigger points, and these can be the cause of chronic pain and stiffness.
There are a lot of muscles associated with the neck and these deep muscles can often get overlooked. In some cases, they can be difficult to reach.
See the video above for more information.
Splenius Capitis - Common Trigger Point Site
Splenius Cervicis - Common Trigger Point Sites
Greek splenion, bandage; Latin capitis, of the head; cervicis, of the neck
Splenius capitis: lower part of ligamentum nuchae. Spinous processes of the 7th cervical vertebra (C7), and upper 3 or 4 thoracic vertebrae (T1–T4).
Splenius cervicis: spinous processes of the 3rd to 6th thoracic vertebrae (T3–T6).
Splenius capitis: posterior aspect of mastoid process of temporal bone. Lateral part of superior nuchal line, deep to the attachment of the SCM.
Splenius cervicis: posterior tubercles of transverse processes of the upper 2 or 3 cervical vertebrae (C1–C3).
Acting together: extend head and neck.
Individually: laterally flexes neck. Rotates face to same side as contracting muscle.
Dorsal rami of middle and lower cervical nerves.
BASIC FUNCTIONAL MOVEMENT
Examples: looking up; turning head to look behind.
REFERRED PAIN PATTERNS
Splenius capitis: 3–5 cm zone of pain in center of vertex of skull.
Splenius cervicis: (a) upper: occipital diffuse pain, radiating via temporal region toward ipsilateral eye; (b) lower: ipsilateral pain in nape of neck.
Headache, neck pain, eye pain, blurred vision (rare), whiplash, pain from draught, postural neck pain (occupational), “internal” skull pain, neck stiffness, decreased ipsilateral rotation.
Poor posture, playing musical instruments, lying on front with head propped up, poor glasses, upper crossed pattern, kyphosis, scoliosis, wear and tear, cold drafts/ air conditioning, vertebral alignment issues, certain sports (e.g. archery), tight shirt/tie, depression.
Other types of headache. 1st rib dysfunction. Torticollis. Optical problems (eyestrain). Neurological. Stress.
This trigger point therapy blog is intended to be used for information purposes only and is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or to substitute for a medical diagnosis and/or treatment rendered or prescribed by a physician or competent healthcare professional. This information is designed as educational material, but should not be taken as a recommendation for treatment of any particular person or patient. Always consult your physician if you think you need treatment or if you feel unwell.
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