Rectus Capitis Posterior Minor

Rectus Capitis Posterior Minor

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The Rectus Capitis Posterior Minor Of The Neck

The rectus capitis posterior minor is a suboccipital muscle of the neck. It is the smallest of the rectus capitis muscles and is located medially to the rectus capitis posterior major. The rectus capitis posterior minor has several key components that make up its anatomy and function.


The rectus capitis posterior minor originates from the posterior tubercle (a rudimentary spinous process) of the C1 vertebra and attaches to the medial part of the inferior nuchal line of the occipital bone.


The rectus capitis posterior minor is primarily responsible for the extension of the head. This means when it contracts, it pushes the head down and back. This action is used in everyday motions such as looking up, looking down, turning the head side to side, and nodding yes or no.


The rectus capitis posterior minor receives its innervation from the suboccipital nerve (posterior ramus of C1). This nerve is responsible for conveying the signals from the brain to the muscle which then initiates the contraction of the muscle.

Blood Supply

The rectus capitis posterior minor is supplied by two main arteries: the vertebral artery and deep descending branches of the occipital artery. These two vessels provide the muscle with the necessary blood flow for both maintaining muscle tissue and allowing the muscle to perform its actions.


The rectus capitis posterior minor also provides support and flexibility to the neck. It is a key stabilizer for the atlanto-occipital joint and assists in the graceful movement of the head. It also allows for proprioception, or the sense of the body’s positions, which helps keep the body balanced and posture upright. All of these actions of the rectus capitis posterior minor help the head maintain a proper position and provide stability and support to the neck region.

Clinical Significance

The rectus capitis posterior minor is often strained due to overuse or intense activities. People who do repetitive twisting motions of the neck, such as those who work at a computer for long periods of time, may strain their rectus capitis posterior minor and suffer from neck pain. Additionally, individuals suffering from chronic neck muscle spasms, cervical vertebral misalignment, or cervical herniated disc may benefit from targeted stretches and strengthening exercises specifically for the rectus capitis posterior minor. Physical therapy and massage therapy can also be beneficial for relieving tension in this muscle.


The rectus capitis posterior minor is an important suboccipital muscle located in the neck. It is responsible for extension of the head, provides stability to the atlanto-occipital joint, and offers proprioception to help keep the head balanced. This muscle is often strained through overuse and can be treated with stretches, strengthening exercises, physical therapy, and massage therapy. With proper treatment, individuals can reduce their neck pain and get back to their regular activities.

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