Rectus capitis posterior major muscle

The rectus capitis posterior major (or rectus capitis posticus major, both being Latin for larger posterior straight muscle of the head) arises by a pointed tendon from the spinous process of the axis, and, becoming broader as it ascends, is inserted into the lateral part of the inferior nuchal line of the occipital bone and the surface of the bone immediately below the line.

Rectus capitis posterior major muscle
Deep muscles of the back. (Rect. post. major visible at upper left.)
OriginSpinous process of the axis (C2)
InsertionInferior nuchal line of the occipital bone
ArteryOccipital Artery
NerveDorsal ramus of C1 (suboccipital nerve), sub-occipital nerve
ActionsIpsilateral rotation of head and extension
LatinMusculus rectus capitis posterior major
Anatomical terms of muscle

A soft tissue connection bridging from the rectus capitis posterior major to the cervical dura mater was described in 2011. Various clinical manifestations may be linked to this anatomical relationship.[1] It has also been postulated that this connection serves as a monitor of dural tension along with the rectus capitis posterior minor and the obliquus capitis inferior.

As the muscles of the two sides pass upward and lateralward, they leave between them a triangular space, in which the rectus capitis posterior minor is seen.

Its main actions are to extend and rotate the atlanto-occipital joint.

See also

Additional images


This article incorporates text in the public domain from page 401 of the 20th edition of Gray's Anatomy (1918)

  1. Frank Scali; Eric S. Marsili; Matt E. Pontell (2011). "Anatomical Connection Between the Rectus Capitis Posterior Major and the Dura Mater". Spine. 36 (25): E1612–4. doi:10.1097/BRS.0b013e31821129df. PMID 21278628.

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