Skip to content

Splenius cervicis



General information

  • This section is strictly limited to anatomy, you might be looking for clinical relevant information which is found under the clinical chapters -- muscles section, click here to go to that page


  • Deep


  • Processus spinosi Th3-Th6


  • Processus transversi C1-C3

Main function

  • Neck
    • Extension
    • Lateral flexion
    • Ipsilateral rotation

Nerve innervation

  • Dorsale rami of the lower cervical spinal nerves

Arterial supply

  • Occipital artery


  • Patient position
    • Sitting
  • Splenius cervicis is deep compared to other muscles and is therefore difficult to palpate
  • The best area to palpate the muscle is at C5-C7, where it is only deep to the trapezius
  • Localize and place a hand just medial to levator scapula
  • This position is just inferior to where splenius capitis can be palpated
  • The patient is asked to rotate the neck to his/her ipsilateral side while the therapist feels for contraction of the muscle

Strength test

  • The test is not isolated to only splenius cervicis, but also involves the splenius capitis, semispinalis capitis and the cervical aspect of the erector spinae
  • Patient position
    • Prone
  • The patient's neck is placed in a posterolateral extension position, the head rotated towards the side which is to be tested
  • The therapist gives resistance in an anterior direction towards the posterolateral aspect of the head