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As neck ( latin Nucha ; Anat: regio cervicalis posterior or Regio nuchae ), the rear part of the neck , respectively. It is responsible for the mobility of the head and large parts of the upper body.


Anatomically , the neck includes the cervical spine and its connection to the back of the head ( neck ), the neck muscles and receptors for surface and depth sensitivity .

The upper part of the neck is bounded by the rear of the sternocleidomastoid muscle and in the lower part by the front of the trapezius muscle . The superior nuchal line of the occiput is placed upwards and the pars transversa of the trapezius muscle downwards . The extent of the neck region thus roughly corresponds to the descending part of the trapezius muscle.

Neck muscles

Overview of the neck muscles

The neck muscles represent a functional continuation of the back muscles and are therefore often discussed as part of the autochthonous back muscles . It is responsible for turning, stretching, bending and tilting the head. The neck muscles are enveloped by the fascia nuchae . The neck muscles can be divided into a front and a rear group (also known as deep neck muscles ):

The anterior group consists of the lateral rectus capitis muscle and the anterior rectus capitis muscle . Sometimes it is also thought of as part of the prevertebral neck muscles.

The posterior group consists of the large posterior straight head muscle ( rectus capitis posterior major muscle ) , the small posterior straight head muscle ( rectus capitis posterior minor muscle ), the superior oblique head muscle ( obliquus capitis superior muscle ) and the lower oblique head muscle ( obliquus capitis muscle inferior ).

Blood vessels

The occipital artery breaks through the nuchal fascia above a tendon arch that extends between the attachment points of the sternocleidomastoid muscle and the trapezius muscle . It thus enters the neck region laterally, where it is connected to the vertebral artery to different degrees. Your accompanying vein is the occipital vein , which is characterized by a very variable shape and can sometimes even be replaced by an azygos nuchae vein . The vertebral artery, in turn, is a branch of the subclavian artery and becomes visible in the trigonum arteriae vertebralis (a triangular anatomical area formed by the rectus capitis posterior major muscle , the inferior obliquus capitis muscle and the superior obliquus capitis muscle ). Another artery is the deep cervical artery . It runs between the semispinales capitis muscles and the semispinales cervicis muscles .


The major occipital nerve is an important nerve . It runs under the skin in close proximity to the occipital artery. It runs between the first cervical vertebra and the second cervical vertebra , appears under the obliquus capitis muscle and finally pierces the semispinalis capitis and trapezius muscles. Together with the upper branch of the minor occipitalis nerve, it is responsible for the skin of the back of the head.

The tertiary occipital nerve arises from the posterior branch of the third spinal nerve and innervates the lower parts of the back of the head and the upper neck region.

The suboccipital nerve innervates the deep, short neck muscles (musculi capitis) and enters the neck region between the occiput and the posterior arch atlantis.

Neck pain

The complex anatomical structures of the neck and neck muscles, the spine and the nerve roots make the neck area susceptible to a multitude of somatic and functional disorders, which result in acute or chronic pain in the neck area, often radiating to the shoulder and arm or the back of the head , to make noticable. Neck pain is one of the most common reasons for consultations with a family doctor. About 9.5% of men and 13.5% of women were affected by chronic neck pain according to a study in the mid-1990s.

Dizziness , headaches and sensory disturbances - from hyperesthesia to paresthesia to asensitivity - can be added if the cause is appropriate.

Organic causes of neck pain

Functional causes of neck pain


  • Renate Huch, Klaus D. Jürgens (ed.): Man - body - disease . 6th edition. Elsevier GmbH Urban & Fischer, Munich 2011, ISBN 978-3-437-26792-5 , p. 100 and 101 .
  • Werner Platzer (Hrsg.): Pocket atlas anatomy: musculoskeletal system . 10th edition. tape 1 . Georg Thieme Verlag, 2009, ISBN 978-3-13-492010-9 , p. 346 ( limited preview in Google Book search).
  • A. Waldeyer, A. Mayet, Friedrich Anderhuber, Franz Pera and Johanes Streicher (eds.): Human anatomy - textbook and atlas in one volume . Walter de Gruyter, 2012, ISBN 978-3-11-022863-2 , p. 141 and 142 ( limited preview in Google Book search).

Web links

Wiktionary: neck  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Neck  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Entry on Nacken in Flexikon , a wiki from DocCheck , accessed on November 25, 2015.
  2. ^ Definition of "neck" in the Duden , last viewed on August 14, 2011.
  3. Entry on Regio cervicalis posterior in Flexikon , a wiki of the DocCheck company , accessed on November 25, 2015.
  4. Entry on neck muscles in Flexikon , a wiki from DocCheck , accessed on November 25, 2015.
  5. Entry on the Nervus occipitalis tertius in Flexikon , a Wiki of the DocCheck company , accessed on November 25, 2015.
  6. J. Schumacher, E. Brähler: Prevalence of pain in the German population - results of representative surveys with the Giessen complaint sheet . In: The pain . tape 13 , no. 6 , December 1999, pp. 375-384 , doi : 10.1007 / s004820050215 .
  7. Neck pain: Causes from, accessed on May 15, 2016.
  8. Neck pain - causes and treatment at, accessed on May 15, 2016.