Obliquus capitis superior muscle

The obliquus capitis superior muscle (/əˈblkwəs ˈkæpɪtɪs/) is a small muscle in the upper back part of the neck and is one of the suboccipital muscles and part of the suboccipital triangle. It arises from the lateral mass of the atlas bone. It passes superiorly and posteriorly to insert into the lateral half of the inferior nuchal line on the external surface of the occipital bone. The muscle is innervated by the suboccipital nerve, the dorsal ramus of the first spinal nerve.

Obliquus capitis superior muscle
Skull seen from behind (obliquus capitis superior shown in red)
Obliquus capitis superior (red) and its relationship to other suboccipital muscles.
OriginLateral mass of atlas
InsertionLateral half of the inferior nuchal line
NerveSuboccipital nerve
ActionsExtends head and flex head to the ipsilateral side
LatinMusculus obliquus capitis superior
Anatomical terms of muscle

It acts at the atlanto-occipital joint to extend the head and flex the head to the ipsilateral side.

Additional images


This article incorporates text in the public domain from page 402 of the 20th edition of Gray's Anatomy (1918)

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