Levator Scapulae Muscle Anatomy

Overview
Origin Transverse processes of vertebrae C1, C2, C3 and C4
Insertion Superior part of the medial border of the scapula
Action Elevates the scapula
Tilts the glenoid cavity inferiorly by downwardly rotating the scapula
Neck extension and lateral flexion
Nerve Cervical nerve (C3, C4) and dorsal scapular nerve (C5)
Artery Dorsal scapular artery

Location & Overview

The levator scapulae muscle is located at the upper back and the side of the neck. The primary function of this muscle is to lift the scapula (as the Latin name suggests). Levator comes from the Latin ‘levare’, meaning ‘to raise’. The inferior part of the levator scapulae is covered by the trapezius muscle and the superior portion is covered by the sternocleidomastoid muscle. It is one of the muscles which forms the posterior triangle (or lateral cervical region) of the neck [1] [2].

The levator scapulae from a lateral view

Pictured here we can see the levator scapulae from a lateral view.

The levator scapulae from a posterior view

Pictured here we can see the levator scapulae from a posterior view.

Origin & Insertion

The levator scapulae muscle originates posterior tubercles of transverse processes of vertebrae C1, C2, C3 and C4 [3] [4]. It then inserts at the superior part of the medial border of the scapula (between the superior angle of the scapula and root of the spine of the scapula) [5] [6].

origin of the levator scapulae muscle

Pictured here we can see the origin of the levator scapulae muscle. The levator scapulae originates from the posterior tubercles of transverse processes of C1 to C4 vertebrae.

the insertion of the levator scapulae muscle

Pictured here we can see the insertion of the levator scapulae muscle. The levator scapulae inserts at the superior part of the medial border of scapula.

Actions

The actions of the levator scapulae muscle are to elevate the scapula. It works alongside the trapezius and rhomboid muscles to accomplish this action. The levator scapula can also tilt the glenoid cavity inferiorly (by downwardly rotating the scapula) it works alongside the following muscles to accomplish this: the rhomboids, descending fibers of the trapezius, latissimus dorsi, pectoralis major and pectoralis minor [7] [8]. The levator scapulae muscle can also assist in neck extension and lateral flexion [9].

Innervation

The levator scapulae is innervated by cervical nerve (C3, C4) and dorsal scapular nerve (C5) [10] [11].

Blood Supply

Blood is primarily supplied to the levator scapulae muscle by the dorsal scapular artery [12].

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Levator Scapulae Flashcards

References

References
1, 12 Henry JP, Munakomi S. Anatomy, Head and Neck, Levator Scapulae Muscles. [Updated 2021 Aug 13]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK553120/
2, 8, 10 Cowan PT, Mudreac A, Varacallo M. Anatomy, Back, Scapula. 2021 Aug 11. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan–. PMID: 30285370.
3 Anderson WS, Lawson HC, Belzberg AJ, Lenz FA. Selective denervation of the levator scapulae muscle: an amendment to the Bertrand procedure for the treatment of spasmodic torticollis. J Neurosurg. 2008 Apr;108(4):757-63.
4 Mitchell B, Imonugo O, Tripp JE. StatPearls [Internet]. StatPearls Publishing; Treasure Island (FL): Aug 10, 2020. Anatomy, Back, Extrinsic Muscles.
5 Oladipo GS, Aigbogun EO, Akani GL. Angle at the Medial Border: The Spinovertebra Angle and Its Significance. Anat Res Int. 2015;2015:986029.
6 Vetter M, Charran O, Yilmaz E, Edwards B, Muhleman MA, Oskouian RJ, Tubbs RS, Loukas M. Winged Scapula: A Comprehensive Review of Surgical Treatment. Cureus. 2017 Dec 07;9(12):e1923.
7 Frank RM, Ramirez J, Chalmers PN, McCormick FM, Romeo AA. Scapulothoracic anatomy and snapping scapula syndrome. Anat Res Int. 2013;2013:635628. doi: 10.1155/2013/635628. Epub 2013 Nov 28. PMID: 24369502; PMCID: PMC3863500.
9 Eliot DJ. Electromyography of levator scapulae: new findings allow tests of a head stabilization model. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1996 Jan;19(1):19-25. PMID: 8903697.
11 Muir B. Dorsal scapular nerve neuropathy: a narrative review of the literature. J Can Chiropr Assoc. 2017 Aug;61(2):128-144. PMID: 28928496; PMCID: PMC5596970.