Slideshows Images Quizzes

Copyright © 2018 by RxList Inc. RxList does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. See additional information.

Definition of Diaphragm (muscle)

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Diaphragm (muscle): The muscle that separates the chest (thoracic) cavity from the abdomen. The diaphragm is the main muscle of respiration. Contraction of the diaphragm muscle expands the lungs during inspiration when one is breathing air in. We rely heavily on the diaphragm for our respiratory function so that when the diaphragm is impaired, it can compromise our breathing. The nerve that controls the diaphragm is the phrenic nerve, which originates at vertebral level C3-C5. During development the diaphragm moves down and drags the phrenic nerve with it.

Reviewed on 12/4/2018

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors