Splenius Capitis Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

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  • 0:04 What Is Splenius…
  • 1:35 Causes
  • 1:53 Symptoms
  • 2:19 Treatment
  • 3:27 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Dan Washmuth

Dan has taught college Nutrition, Anatomy, Physiology, and Sports Nutrition courses and has a master's degree in Dietetics & Nutrition.

Splenius capitis syndrome is a condition that can cause severe pain that radiates to multiple parts of the body. Continue reading to learn more about splenius capitis syndrome, including its causes, symptoms, and treatment.

What Is Splenius Capitis Syndrome?

Penny is a 37-year-old hairdresser who commutes 45 minutes each way to and from work. A couple of days ago, while Penny was waiting at a stop light on her drive home, a car came out of nowhere and ran right into the back of her car. The impact caused Penny's head to snap back, resulting in a lot of pain in the back of her neck.

After the accident, Penny went to the ER to get evaluated to make sure she didn't suffer any serious injuries. After running Penny through several tests, a doctor told Penny that she didn't sustain any serious injuries, although the muscles in the back of her neck were most likely going to be pretty sore over the next few days.

The doctor was right; Penny's neck was very sore. However, about two days after the accident, Penny also started to have a severe headache and her eyes became very sensitive to light. Worried about these symptoms, Penny went back to the ER to get reevaluated. Penny was put through more tests and it was determined that she had splenius capitis syndrome.

The splenius muscle is located at the back of the neck. More specifically, this muscle originates from several of the vertebrae in the upper back and neck, then extends upward and attaches onto the base of the skull. This muscle allows a person to bend their neck backwards, as well as bend and rotate the neck to each side of the body. Splenius capitis syndrome is a condition in which the splenius capitis muscle becomes injured, causing pain and other symptoms throughout the head, neck, and upper extremities.


There are several situations and events that can cause injury to the splenius capitis muscle, resulting in splenius capitis syndrome. These situations and events include:

  • Car accidents
  • Falls
  • Sports collisions
  • Poor posture
  • Direct trauma


The most common symptom of splenius capitis syndrome is pain. The pain can occur in several places, including the back of the neck and head, temples, forehead, between the eyes, behind the eyes, and even radiating down into the shoulders and arms. In addition to pain, other symptoms include:

  • Eye sensitivity to light
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pressure in the head and behind the eyes

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