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Trigeminal nerve - Definition


The trigeminal nerve runs symmetrically down both sides of the body, emerging from the brain, hence its other name of the 5th cranial nerve, and is responsible for sensitivity in the majority of the face. It splits into 3 branches, the first known as opthalmic nerve ensuring sensitivity in the forhead, upper circumference of the eye, and bridge of the nose areas. The second is called the maxillary nerve and innervates the small area under the eye down to the lips. The third is the mandibular nerve, which innervates the lateral area of the face from the jaw, along the cheek, to the area infront of and above the ear. Damage to this nerve can therefore cause sensory loss in the face or even paralysis, and is called tigeminal neuralgia. The trigeminal nerve also has a role in motor function in its capacity of ensuring movement of the muscles involved in chewing.