Skip to main content

Unfortunately we don't fully support your browser. If you have the option to, please upgrade to a newer version or use Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, or Safari 14 or newer. If you are unable to, and need support, please send us your feedback.

Elsevier
Publish with us
Greater Occipital Nerve
Nervous System

Greater Occipital Nerve

Nervus occipitalis major

Read more

Quick Facts

Origin: Posterior ramus of second cervical nerve.

Course: Ascends over the surface of obliquus capitis inferior muscle, deep to the semispinalis capitis.

Branches: Posterior cutaneous branch.

Supply: Motor innervation to obliquus capitis inferior and semispinalis capitis muscles. Sensory innervation to scalp and dura mater in the posterior cranial fossa.

Complete Anatomy
The world's most advanced 3D anatomy platform
Try it for Free

Origin

The greater occipital nerve (or the medial branch of the posterior ramus of the second cervical nerve) arises from the posterior ramus of the second cervical nerve. It is one of two branches, the other being the lateral branch.

Course

The greater occipital nerve ascends after emerging from below the obliquus capitis inferior muscle. It winds underneath the muscle and ascends between the obliquus capitis and semispinalis capitis muscles. It pierces the latter and emerges through the gap between the sternocleidomastoid and trapezius to reach the scalp.

Branches

The greater occipital nerve gives rise to a posterior cutaneous branch.

Supplied Structures

The greater occipital nerve provides motor innervation to the obliquus capitis inferior and semispinalis capitis muscles.

Somatic afferent neurons within the posterior cutaneous branch of the greater occipital nerve provide sensory innervation to the skin over the scalp and posterior auricular region.

The greater occipital nerve also provides sensory branches to the dura mater in the posterior cranial fossa and pain and proprioceptive branches to the first cervical nerve for the suboccipital muscles.

Learn more about this topic from other Elsevier products

Greater Occipital Nerve

ScienceDirect image

The greater occipital nerve is the medial branch of the dorsal primary ramus of the C2 spinal nerve.

Explore on ScienceDirect(opens in new tab/window)

Complete Anatomy

The world's most advanced 3D anatomy platform

Complete Anatomy