Rectus capitis posterior minor muscle

The rectus capitis posterior minor (or rectus capitis posticus minor, both being Latin for lesser posterior straight muscle of the head) arises by a narrow pointed tendon from the tubercle on the posterior arch of the atlas, and, widening as it ascends, is inserted into the medial part of the inferior nuchal line of the occipital bone and the surface between it and the foramen magnum, and also takes some attachment to the spinal dura mater.

Rectus capitis posterior minor muscle
Human skull seen from back (rectus capitis posterior minor shown in red.)
Deep muscles of the back. (rectus capitis posterior minor labeled at top center.)
OriginTubercle on the posterior arch of the atlas
InsertionMedial part of the inferior nuchal line of the occipital bone and the surface between it and the foramen magnum
NerveBranch of the dorsal primary division of the suboccipital nerve
Actionsextends the head at the neck, but is now considered to be more of a sensory organ than a muscle
LatinMusculus rectus capitis posterior minor
Anatomical terms of muscle

The synergists are the rectus capitis posterior major and obliquus capitis.

Connective tissue bridges were noted at the atlanto-occipital joint between the rectus capitis posterior minor muscle and the dorsal spinal dura. Similar connective tissue connections of the rectus capitis posterior major have been reported recently as well.[1] The perpendicular arrangement of these fibers appears to restrict dural movement toward the spinal cord. The ligamentum nuchae was found to be continuous with the posterior cervical spinal dura and the lateral portion of the occipital bone. Anatomic structures innervated by cervical nerves C1-C3 have the potential to cause headache pain. Included are the joint complexes of the upper three cervical segments, the dura mater, and spinal cord.

The dura-muscular, dura-ligamentous connections in the upper cervical spine and occipital areas may provide anatomic and physiologic answers to the cause of the cervicogenic headache. This proposal would further explain manipulation's efficacy in the treatment of cervicogenic headache.[2]

Additional images

See also


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

  1. Anatomical Connection Between the Rectus Capitis Posterior Major and the Dura Mater. Scali F, Marsili ES, Pontell ME.
  2. Gary D. Hack; Peter Ratiu; John P. Kerr; Gwendolyn F. Dunn; Mi Young Toh. "Visualization of the Muscle-Dural Bridge in the Visible Human Female Data Set". The Visible Human Project, National Library of Medicine.
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