In the human body, the head and the Splenius Capitis Muscle of the neck work together to extend (tilt backward) and rotate the neck and head. The splenius capitis muscle is a wide muscle located at the neck’s backside, also known as the head’s splenius. It is connected to the skull perpendicularly. The splenius cervicis is a shorter and more prominent neck muscle. Near the back of the body, this muscle lies beneath the splenius capitis.
What is Splenius Capitis?
At the backside of the neck, there is a big, strap-like muscle called the splenius capitis. On each side of the back neck, the splenius capitis muscle is a resonant, thin, and broad muscle. The name splenius capitis is derived from the Greek word splenion, which means “bandage,” and the Latin word capitis means “head.” This muscle resembles a bandage because of its thin and rounded qualities.
Origin of Splenius Capitis
Splenius capitis, with its badge-like appearance, can be found on the bottom half of the nuchal ligament and the spinous processes of the seventh cervical to third thoracic vertebrae (C7-T3).
As the muscle fibers run superiorly and laterally, the attachment points attach to the temporal skeleton’s mastoid process, where they undergo contraction. As a result, a cone-shaped eminence on the bottom of the skull is known as the mastoid process. It is an air-filled bone that lies on the mastoid air cells. The muscle embeds partially on the outer surface of the occipital bone, just beneath the lateral section of the superior nuchal line.
Functions of Splenius Capitis
A muscle located in the back of the neck called the splenius capitis is responsible for neck and head movement. The following are specific movements for which the splenius capitis is used:
- The process of extending the neck back to see the clouds above you.
- The lateral flexion of the neck is an act of bending the neck to the right or the left.
- Rotate the neck to the side as you are looking over your shoulder.
Splenius Capitis Muscle Syndrome
It is a painful syndrome that first became known in the 1980s due to Spleniculitis Capitis. Motor vehicle accidents often cause pain, blunt trauma, falls, or postures while obliquely moving the head up and down.
Individuals who engage in excessive repetitive movements may find that the muscles are overused and, as a result, may develop small degenerative changes within the insertion fibers. This process is similar to insertion tendinitis, which is found in other extensor processes of the bone.
Causes: Splenius capitis syndrome can be caused by various situations or events. A few of them are:
- Automobile accidents
- Sports collisions
- Improper posture
- Acute injury
It can manifest as a severe headache, with similar symptoms to a migraine headache, including a general feeling of aching pain and discomfort in several different parts of the body, such as:
- Having a headache at the back of the head
- Temple Pain
- Pressure behind the eye
- Areas above and below the eye that are experiencing pain
- Sensitivity to light
- Aches in the neck, shoulders, or arms
The treatment depends on the underlying cause of the pain, which may include clinical, surgical, behavioral, and stress-relieving techniques. Infusing anesthesia into the affected area is considered the most effective treatment for Splenius Capitis Muscle Syndrome. In the case of enlarged muscles, minor surgical procedures can be performed to reduce nerve function permanently. It is often possible to relieve pain with physical therapy, stretching, ice, or heat.
Radiofrequency thermoneuromysis is prescribed to treat severe or prolonged pain along with nausea or vomiting. In this procedure, a device uses radio wave energy to cauterize (burn) a cluster of nerves so they can no longer send pain signals to the brain.
Stretches for Splenius Capitis Pain
As you know, stretches are famous for relieving pain. Here are some stretches:
- Anterior Extension:
- The hands should go behind the head, and your fingers should be interlaced.
- Gently lower your chin to your chest.
- A stretch should be felt in the neck that extends to the shoulder blades.
- Hold your hands against the head for approximately five seconds.
- Take a rest for15 sec.
- Traction Stretch:
- The stretcher places their hands below the head of the person lying on the bed.
- When the person is stretched, they put their weight into the hands of the stretcher.
- The stretcher then lightly moves their fingers downwards as far as they reach the lower portion of the skull.
- Use fingertips to apply pressure.
- During exercise, lean your body apart from the head and allow the hands to lengthen your spine with the same lightly motion.
- Assisted Stretch by massage ball:
- The ball should be placed on the splenius capitis while sitting.
- Using a gentle circular motion, roll the ball up and down.
- Take help from your partner to perform this stretch.
- Relieving Massage:
- Drop your shoulders, so they are no longer hooked up behind your ears.
- Tuck your chin against your chest to stretch your neck.
- The tip of fingers should be placed on the back of your neck where the shoulder meets the neck.
- Press hard and hold for a few seconds before releasing your fingers.
- Rotate your shoulder slowly from the front to the back.
- Repeat this activity several times (at least 5 times).
- Assisted Stretch:
- Lie down on the stretcher comfortably.
- The stretcher places their hands on the side of the head and the shoulder of the person.
- The hand should be placed on the ear, and the fingers should face the chin and the neck.
- Lightly depress the right shoulder apart from the head with your left hand.
- Take the right hand and gently move the head away from the shoulder.
- Redo this step on the other side.
- Health line editorial team,(2018).
- Barthelmes V, (2020). https://www.jadorevanessa.com/13-best-splenius-capitis-stretches-origin-insertion-antagonist/