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Rotator muscles

Synonym: rotation muscles
German: Musculi rotatores

1 Definition

The rotator muscles are skeletal muscles of the muscles of the back. They form part of the medial tract of the erector spinae muscles.

2 Devolution

The rotator muscles are predominantly formed in the thoracic spine region. In the cervical and lumbar spine regions, they are inconsistently formed in humans.

2.1 Origin and insertion

In the thoracic spine region, the rotator muscles draw from the transverse process to the spinous process of the vertebra one or two segments superior.

The rotator muscles that insert one vertebra above are called rotatores breves muscles (short rotator muscles), whereas the ones inserting two vertebrae above are called rotatores longi muscles (long rotator muscles).

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2.2 Rotatores cervicis and rotatores lumborum muscles

At the cervical spine, the rotator muscles draw from the articular process to the spinous process of the next vertebra above. At the lumbar spine, they originate in the mammillary process accordingly.

3 Innervation

The innervation of the rotator muscles is provided by the medial branches of the posterior branches (rami posteriores) of the corresponding segmental spinal nerves.

4 Function

Upon unilateral contraction of the rotator muscles, the spine rotates to the contralateral side in the section concerned. Bilateral contraction leads to a dorsal extension of the thoracic spine.

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