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Neck Pain and Stiffness - Trigger Points are likely to re-activate where poor posture isn't addressed 



Neck pain and stiffness is often related to active trigger points in the muscles of the neck

Whilst these trigger points may remain dormant for years, they will often suddenly activate.

In most cases, it is poor posture (long term) rather than trauma that activates these triggers.

Splenius Capitis/Splenius Cervicis

Greek splenion, bandage; Latin capitis, of the head; cervicis, of the neck


Splenius Capitis Trigger Points

Splenius Capitis Trigger Point



Splenius Cervicis Trigger Points

Splenius Cervicis Trigger Points



Splenius capitis: lower part of ligamentum nuchae. Spinous processes of the 7th cervical vertebra (C7), and upper 3 or 4 thoracic vertebrae (T1–T4).

Splenius cervicis: spinous processes of the 3rd to 6th thoracic vertebrae (T3–T6).


Splenius capitis: posterior aspect of mastoid process of temporal bone. Lateral part of superior nuchal line, deep to the attachment of the SCM. Splenius cervicis: posterior tubercles of transverse processes of the upper 2 or 3 cervical vertebrae (C1–C3).


Acting together: extend head and neck.

Individually: laterally exes neck. Rotates face to same side as contracting muscle.


Dorsal rami of middle and lower cervical nerves.

Basic Functional Movement

Examples: looking up; turning head to look behind.


Splenius Capitis - Referred Pain

Splenius Capitis - Referred Pain



Splenius Cervicis Referred Pain

Splenius Cervicis Referred Pain


Referred Pain

Splenius capitis: 3–5 cm zone of pain in center of vertex of skull. Splenius cervicis: (a) upper: occipital diffuse pain, radiating via temporal region toward ipsilateral eye; (b) lower: ipsilateral pain in nape of neck.


Headache, neck pain, eye pain, blurred vision (rare), whiplash, pain from draught, postural neck pain (occupational), “internal” skull pain, neck stiffness, decreased ipsilateral rotation.


Poor posture, playing musical instruments, lying on front with head propped up, poor glasses, upper crossed pattern, kyphosis, scoliosis, wear and tear, cold drafts/ air conditioning, vertebral alignment issues, certain sports (e.g. archery), tight shirt/tie, depression.

Differential Diagnosis

Other types of headache. 1st rib dysfunction. Torticollis. Optical problems (eyestrain). Neurological. Stress.


Trapezius, SCM, masseter, temporalis, multifidus, semispinalis capitis, suboccipital muscles, occipitofrontalis, levator scapulae, pectoralis major.

General Advice

Avoid postural/maintaining factors, answering the telephone. Work posture. Self-stretch program. Glasses (type, try trifocals).



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This trigger point therapy blog is intended to be used for information purposes only and is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or to substitute for a medical diagnosis and/or treatment rendered or prescribed by a physician or competent healthcare professional. This information is designed as educational material, but should not be taken as a recommendation for treatment of any particular person or patient. Always consult your physician if you think you need treatment or if you feel unwell. 





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