Which neck muscles get involved in neck-shoulder pain?

Muscles at the neck

The neck is the centre of muscle network of the upper body. The cervical spine and the muscles and ligaments are at the back of the neck. The cervical spine is made up of seven vertebraes between which is a disc. Spinal cord is within the spine and protected by the spine. Nerves come out from the cervical spine and innervated the neck and arms.

There are many muscles connect the neck to the head, shoulders and the back.

Trapezius muscle

Trapezius is a large triangular muscle superficially located at the neck and upper back. It connects the neck to the head and shoulders and upper back and middle back. Apart from trapezius there are many muscles connecting the neck to the head and shoulders.

Muscles connect the neck to the head. As mentioned above some muscles connect the neck to the head contributing to the head and neck movement. They are Semispinalis captisis which is deep to the trapezius muscle is originated from the four to seven cervical vertebraes and the upper seven thoracic vertibraes. Beneath this muscle there are five other muscles including rectus capitis posterior minor,rectus capitis posterior major, rectus capitis anterior, rectus capitis lateralis, obliquus capitis superior. Splenius capitis and Longissimus capitis are originated from lower cervical spine and upper thoracic spine and attach to the head.

Muscles connect the neck to the shoulder blades and the back

Levator scapulae muscle

Levator scapulae muscle is the muscle located at the back and side of the neck. It originates at the transverse process of the first to fourth cervical vertebrae and inserts at the superior corner of the scapula. It rotates and flexes the cervical spine laterally, when one shoulder is fixed. It flexes and extends the cervical spine, if both the shoulders are fixed. It lifts up the shoulder when the spine is fixed. This muscle pain presents a stiff and painful neck. The pain is characterised at the one side of the neck and the upper shoulder and it may go down to the shoulder blade and between shoulder blades. The pain limits the movement of the head.

The rhomboid muscles

The rhomboid muscles include the rhomboid muscle major and the rhomboid muscle minor. They connect the shoulder blades to the vertebras (C7-T5) to adduct the arm and pull the shoulder blades towards to the spine. Cooperating with levator scapulae muscle they lift up the medial border and downwards rotate the shoulder blades. The rhomboid muscle major also holds the shoulder blades onto the ribcage.

The serratus posterior superior

Deep to the rhomboid muscles is the serratus posterior superior. This muscle originates at the C7-T3 vertebras and attaches at the second to the fifth ribs under the shoulder blade. It elevates the ribs to aid diaphragm for deep breath.

The splenius cervicis are originated from T3-T6 and inserted to the C1-C3 transverse process. The cervical part of the illiocostalis muscle ends at the cervical transverse processes.

The semispinalis cervicis are originated from the transverse processes of C4-T10 and attach to the spinous processes of C2-C4. They extend, rotate the head and spine.

In the neck there are also some intrinsic muscles such as multifidus, minor deep intrinsic muscles, rotators between and process of the vertebras to stabilise the vertebral column.

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