Neck Muscles: Anatomy, Common Conditions & Disorders


What are neck muscles?

Your neck muscles are contribution of a complex musculoskeletal system ( easy tissues and bones ) that connect the base of your skull to your torso. Muscles contain fibers that contract ( get smaller ), allowing you to perform lots of different movements. Your neck muscles help you do everything from chewing and swallowing to nodding your head. You have more than 20 neck muscles .
The muscles in your neck are bony muscles, meaning they ’ re attached to bones by tendons. They ’ rhenium voluntary muscles, so you control how they move and solve. other types of muscles in the body – cardiac ( in the heart ) and smooth ( in hole organs like your stomach ) – are involuntary, which means they work without you having to think about it .


What is the purpose of the neck muscles?

The neck muscles serve a variety of functions, including :

  • Elevating your upper ribs so you can inhale.
  • Helping with chewing, swallowing and speaking.
  • Making certain facial expressions.
  • Moving your head, neck and upper back, including your shoulder blades.
  • Stabilizing and supporting your head, neck and spine.


Where are the neck muscles located?

Your neck muscles are at the movement, back and sides of your neck. From the back, they begin equitable beneath the base of your skull and extend down near the middle of your bet on, around your shoulder blades. From the front, these muscles begin at your yack and extend to your clavicle at the circus tent of your thorax.

How are the neck muscles structured?

There are three types of neck muscles : anterior ( front ), posterior ( back ) and lateral pass ( side ) muscles .
Anterior neck muscles include :

  • Platysma: Thin sheet of muscle that covers part of your shoulder and upper chest, extending up the jaw. It helps with jaw and mouth movements, as well as tightening the skin in your lower face and neck.
  • Sternocleidomastoid: One of the largest muscles in the neck, helping you move your head, extend your neck and control your temporomandibular joint (in the jaw). It begins just behind your ear and stretches to your collarbone.
  • Subclavius: Stabilizes your collarbone when you move your shoulder and arm.
  • Suprahyoids: Four muscles that move your hyoid bone (a bone at the top of your neck, just below your jawline) when you swallow and speak.
  • Infrahyoids: Four muscles below your hyoid bone that move your larynx (voice box) up and down.
  • Scalenes: Three muscles that move your first two ribs up and down so you can inhale air when you breathe. They also help move the head and stabilize the cervical vertebrae (bones in your neck).

Posterior neck muscles include :

  • Splenius capitis and splenius cervicis: Strap-like muscles in the back of your neck that help you extend and rotate your head.
  • Suboccipital muscles: Four muscles just below the occipital bone at the base of your skull. They help extend your head in different directions.
  • Transversospinalis muscles: Five muscles that help you move your head forward and backward, as well as tilt it from side to side. They also help stabilize your spine and move the cervical, thoracic and lumbar regions of your spine.

lateral neck muscles include :

  • Rectus capitis anterior and rectus capitis lateralis: Two muscles that control head movements from the base of your skull.
  • Longus capitis and longus colli: Two muscles help you twist your head from side to side, as well as twist and tilt your cervical spine.

What are the neck muscles made of?

Like all other bony muscles in the body, neck muscles contain lots of bantam, elastic fibers that allow the muscles to contract. Sheaths of ruffianly connective weave hold the fibers together. skeletal muscle fibers are bolshevik and white, so the muscles look striated ( striped or streaked ) .

Conditions and Disorders

What conditions and disorders affect neck muscles?

park conditions that affect the neck muscles include :

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  • Spasms: Also called muscle cramps, muscle spasms occur when a muscle contracts and can’t relax. Most spasms are short, lasting only a few seconds. But you may have a sore or stiff neck afterwards.
  • Strains: A neck strain is an injury to a muscle or tendon. It’s the result of overstretching or tearing the muscle fibers.
  • Whiplash: If your head moves forward suddenly and then whips backward, you can injure the soft tissue in your neck. Whiplash usually involves muscles, ligaments and tendons.

How common are neck muscle conditions?

Studies estimate that approximately 14 % of the population has some shape of chronic neck pain. approximately 45 % of those cases ( about 15.5 million Americans ) may be due to whiplash .

Who gets neck muscle injuries?

Whiplash is typically the resultant role of an car accident if you ’ rhenium rear-end. Neck injuries such as strains are common in athletes who play collision sports like football or ice hockey. But neck pain can happen to anyone. Turning your head abruptly, sleeping on your neck at an awkward angle, sitting at your desk with badly model or other everyday activities can cause the periodic neck kink .

What are the symptoms of neck muscle injuries?

Neck injuries may cause :

  • Headache in the back of your head.
  • Muscle spasms or pain in your upper shoulder.
  • Numbness in the arm or hand.
  • Pain or tenderness in the front, back or side of your neck.
  • Stiffness or inability to move your head in different directions.
  • Swelling or bruising around your neck.

How are neck muscle injuries diagnosed?

Your healthcare supplier reviews your symptoms and performs a forcible examination. They may ask you to move your head, neck and shoulders in different directions to check your muscle persuasiveness and range of movement. Your supplier may recommend imaging exams, such as an sonography or CT scan, if they think you may have muscle damage .

How are neck muscle injuries treated?

Most neck brawn injuries heal over the naturally of a few days or weeks with at-home treatments. Your provider may recommend :

  • Heat therapy to relax muscles.
  • Ice or cold compresses to reduce swelling.
  • Massage.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications or muscle relaxants.


How can I keep my neck muscles healthy?

Keep your neck muscles potent and goodly by :

  • Maintaining good posture.
  • Paying attention to your body’s signals. Don’t ignore continued pain, weakness in the arms or headache/neck stiffness.

Frequently Asked Questions

When should I call my doctor?

serious neck injuries need immediate checkup attention. Contact your doctor right away if you have :

  • Increased irritability, fatigue or difficulty sleeping or concentrating after a neck injury.
  • Intense headache that persists or gets worse.
  • Numbness, tingling or weakness in your neck, head, arms or hands.
  • Sudden, severe neck pain or pain that lasts several days after an injury.

A note from Cleveland Clinic
You have more than 20 neck muscles, which allow you to perform a diverseness of movements. Our neck muscles stabilize and support our heads and upper backs, in addition to helping us chew, make facial expressions and even breathe. Neck injuries, such as muscle strains or whip, can be afflictive but aren ’ thyroxine normally cause for alarm. But in rare cases, unplayful neck injuries need immediate checkup attention .

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