The splenius cervicis muscle connects the upper vertebrae of the neck to the upper vertebrae of the upper back. The muscle can contribute to headaches, numbness in the back of the head, pressure in the back of the head, and pain behind the eye. It is also a primary source of pain at the slope of the neck, where it joins to the shoulder.

Contents of Article

    Where is the splenius cervicis muscle?

    Splenius Cervicis Anatomy Showing Trigger Point Location

    It connects the neck vertebrae (C1-3) to the upper back (T3-6).

    What Movements Does It Control?

    • Straightens (extends) the neck
    • Turns (rotates) the neck
    • Bends (lateral flexion) the neck towards the shoulder

    For detailed muscle anatomy visit Splenius Cervicis Anatomy


    What pain and symptoms are associated with the splenius cervicis muscles?

    Splenius Cervicis Referred Pain Pattern

    Trigger points in the splenius cervicis cause pain throughout the head and neck. Headaches begin at the base of the skull going through the head to the back of the eye. The pain feels deep in the head and often has a pulsating feel. You may also experience blurry vision. Another symptom is numbness in the back of the head, which is often accompanied by deep pressure in the head.

    A common symptom is an aching pain and tightness at the slope where the neck and shoulder connect.

    The symptoms:

    • Pain where the shoulder and neck join
    • Aching, throbbing pain that starts at the back of the head and goes through to the back of the eye
    • Numbness or pressure in the back of the head
    • Migraine headaches
    • Blurred vision with a headache

    TWD Recommends

    The splenius muscles' tightness and pain respond well to hot and cold treatments. The Huggaroo Neck Wrap treats the neck, top of the shoulder, and upper back. Use cold for migraines and whiplash injuries. Use heat for tension headaches and relaxation.

    What causes trigger points in the splenius cervicis muscles?

    In today’s technological age, a common cause of trigger points in the splenius muscles is the constant looking down at our phones. This pain has been dubbed 'text neck.'  Another major contributor is propping your head up on the arm of the couch while lying down.  Propping your head up on too many pillows while you sleep will also cause pain and stiffness.

    If you have ever had a whiplash injury, there is a good chance that the muscle was affected and developed TrPs. Forward head posture where your chin juts forward is also a major cause of trigger points in the splenius cervicis.

    The causes of trigger points: 

    • Whiplash injuries
    • Sleeping with your head propped up high on pillows or the arm of the couch
    • A prime contributor to “text neck.”
    • Forward head posture – forward head posture is when the head juts forward in relation to the neck.

    TWD Recommends

    The Craniocradle was developed to treat headaches and stiff necks. The cradle applies pressure to the muscles while providing gentle traction to the neck. Use for 5-10 minutes and feel a reduction in pain and stress. The cradle can also be used for treatment in other areas, including the low back and hip area. Instructions are provided.

    If you have rounded shoulder, forward head posture, or a habit of slouching, correcting your posture will reduce muscle pain. The Truweo Posture Corrector is adjustable and comfortable. It gently pulls your shoulders back, which helps retrain muscle memory to maintain proper posture. Many people notice an immediate reduction of pain and tension. Start slowly, wearing the brace for short periods throughout the day, gradually increasing the time-worn.

    Splenius Cervicis Trigger Point Treatment

    The splenius cervicis muscle can be self-treated. TWD highly recommends The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook. It is an excellent resource to learn how to find and treat trigger points not only in the neck but throughout the body.

    If you get the workbook, you will need a Thera Cane Massager to reach the trigger point located in the upper back just below the shoulder. The cane helps treat muscles throughout the body that cannot be easily reached, like muscles in the back, the glutes, and the bottom of the feet.

    TWD Recommends

    Does your pillow support your head and neck?

    Sleeping without proper head and neck support is sure to aggravate neck and shoulder muscles. The Sweetnight Pillow has adjustable filling and is highly recommended for its neck support.

    Interesting facts about the splenius cervicis muscle

    • The splenius cervicis muscles move the neck but do not contribute to the movement of the head (skull).
    • The splenius muscles are significant contributors to migraine headaches.
    • The splenius muscles should be examined and treated in all whiplash injuries.

    Clinical diagnoses to which the splenius cervicis muscle symptoms may contribute:

    • Whiplash
    • Migraine headaches
    • Military neck
    • Text neck
    • Spasmatic torticollis (Wryneck)
    • Occipitoatlantal dysfunction
    • C2 C3 radiculopathy
    • Herniated disc
    • Bulging disc
    • Prolapsed disc
    • Eye Strain
    • Stenosis
    • Cervical Spine Hyperlordosis
    • Scoliosis
    • Migraine Headache
    • Tension Headache
    • Eye Strain
    • Vertebral vascular disorder
    • Cerebrovascular disorder


    Other muscles that should be considered and examined in conjunction with the splenius cervicis:

    Satellite trigger points associated with the muscle:

    If you find trigger points in the splenius cervicis you will want to check these muscles for additional trigger points.
    • Levator scapulae
    • Sternocleidomastoid
    • Splenius cervicis
    • Upper trapezius


    I often recommend the Neck King Massage Tool For Neck and Back to my clients who suffer from headaches, migraines, and stiff necks. The Neck King works on trigger points and pressure points to help relieve muscle tension and pain. The secret to using the Neck King is to follow the directions carefully and to slowly build up the time spent using the tool. For many first-time users, the tool is too hard to use comfortably. Folding a hand towel and laying it over the Neck King will help ease the discomfort. It works exceptionally well on the muscles at the base of the skull. This tool has helped me and many of my clients relieve headaches, sore stiff necks, and upper back strain.

    Find additional muscles that may contribute to these symptoms:


    Muscles with similar pain patterns

    Sternocleidomastoid Muscle
    Occipitalis Muscle
    Suboccipital Muscle
    Temporalis Muscle