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Levator scapulae

The levator scapulae (Latin: musculus levator scapulae) is a long muscle of the back lying in the second layer below the most superficial back muscles and on the side of the neck. It may also be categorized as a muscle of the shoulder. Its main action is lifting the scapula.

The upper part of this muscle lies beneath the splenius capitis and sternocleidomastoid muscle, while its lower part is located below the trapezius. The middle part is the only portion of the levator scapulae uncovered in the lateral neck region, where the muscle is, therefore, easily palpable.

Origin

Fibers of the levator scapulae originate from the transverse processes of the atlas (C1) and axis (C2), as well as from the posterior tubercles of the third and fourth cervical vertebrae (C3, C4).

Insertion

The levator scapulae inserts into the posterior surface of the medial scapular border - from the superior angle to the root of the spine of the scapula.

Action

The main action provided by the levator scapulae is to elevate the scapula.

Innervation

The levator scapulae is innervated by branches of the third and fourth cervical spinal nerves (C3, C4), and also the dorsal scapular nerve, which arises from the fifth cervical spinal nerve (C5).