Big ear nerve: definition, structure, type, functions, anatomy, physiology, possible diseases and treatment methods

What is an ear big nerve? What are its functions? You will find answers to these and other questions in the article. This nerve is part of the cervical weave (plexus cervicalis), which is formed by the anterior branches of the four cervical spinal superior nerves (CI-CIV). In the interweaving, apart from the branches creating it, three loops and branches extending from them are distinguished, which are divided into three groups: connecting, muscle and skin. Find out the features of the ear large nerve below.

Cutaneous branches of the cervical plexus

Big ear nerve

It is known that the cervical plexus consists of:

  1. The occipital small nerve, which appears from the third and second cervical nerves (CIII and CII), runs to the posterior border of the clavicle-sternum-mastoid muscle, and emerging from it, it is often divided into a pair of branches. The latter follow up and to the back of the head, then branch out behind the auricle and above it in the area of โ€‹โ€‹the skin bordering on the back with the branching area of โ€‹โ€‹the large occipital nerve, in front - on the segment of the ear nerve. The occipital minor nerve has adhesions with the large occipital and auricular nerves and the facial (its posterior auricular nerve).
  2. The auricular nerve (nervus auricularis magnus) is the largest cutaneous nerve of the cervical weave. It starts from CIII (CIV), follows to the posterior border of the clavicle-sternum-mastoid muscle and, bypassing it below the tiny occipital nerve, moves to the outer surface of the muscle. Then the nerve trunk goes forward and up to the auricle and is divided into the posterior and anterior branches. What are the branches of the ear large nerve? The anterior one is thinner, branching in the skin of the segment of the gland of the parotid, earlobes and in the skin of the hollow surface of the auricle. The back branch branches in the skin behind the ear and in the skin of the protruding surface of the ear conch.
  3. The transverse nerve of the neck appears from CII (CIII), goes, like the large ear nerve, to the posterior border of the clavicle-sternum-mastoid muscle, passes it and then follows in the perpendicular direction forward along the outer surface of this muscle, between it and the muscle neck subcutaneous. This nerve has adhesions with the cervical branch of the facial nerve, forming with it the cervical superficial loop.
  4. The supraclavicular nerves appear from CIII (CIV), follow the posterior border of the clavicle-sternomastoid muscle and exit because of it just below the perpendicular nerve of the neck, located here in the area of โ€‹โ€‹the clavicular-scapular triangle, under the fascia. Then, piercing the fascia, the nerves go down to the collarbone, and diverge fan-shaped into three branches: medial supraclavicular nerves, intermediate and lateral.


You must admit that the anatomy of the large ear nerve is rather complicated. It is known that it has adhesion to the auricular posterior nerve (from the facial nerve) and the occipital minor nerve. This nerve is very sensitive in its function.

Neuralgia of the large ear nerve

Its fibers perform the innervation of the skin of the auditory external passage, the mandibular zone and partially activate the skin of the auricle. When it is damaged, sensitivity in these segments is disturbed, pain appears in the area of โ€‹โ€‹the auditory external passage, as well as in the area of โ€‹โ€‹the lower jaw angle.


Pain in the occipital neuralgia

What is neuralgia of the large ear nerve? Symptomatically, it is identical to purulent inflammation of the middle ear (otitis media), which is why it is often difficult to make a correct diagnosis. Feeling pain in the ear, the patient turns to the ENT to no avail, while only a neurologist can choose the healing technology for this problem.

Pathology Features

Neuralgia of the large ear nerve

The nerve node of the ear has a complex structure, which is formed by sensitive and autonomic nerve fibers. With ear neuralgia, people notice the following symptoms:

  • profuse salivation;
  • sharp and shooting pain in the ear ;
  • feeling of stuffiness in the ear.

Often the pain is reflected in the lower jaw, which makes it difficult to identify the causes of the pain syndrome and make a diagnosis, which requires consultation of three specialists - a dentist, an otolaryngologist and a neurologist.


Diagnosis of neuralgia of the large ear nerve

As a rule, neuralgia of the ear node develops due to the presence of a focus of infection in the body. Viruses spread with blood flow throughout the body and enter the cranial nerve zone, activating inflammation. The cause of neuralgia can be:

  • blockage or inflammation of the salivary glands;
  • sinusitis;
  • tonsillitis, including prolonged;
  • purulent and prolonged inflammation of the middle ear (otitis media);
  • infectious and bacterial dental ailments.

Secondary inflammation of the large ear nerve is sometimes found. This occurs with ailments such as sepsis, pneumonia, and kidney disease. Damage to the nerve ear ganglion may be one of the manifestations of diabetic polyneuropathy.


The large ear nerve does a very important job. With ear neuralgia, pain can be transmitted to the jaw, however, patients often talk about pain in the ear and around its shell, expanding to the temporal zone. The pain is realized in the form of seizures, with some effects it can worsen. Factors that exacerbate this pain are eating hot foods, wet weather, stress, or psycho-emotional stress.

Attacks of pain are short-lived and can last from a couple of minutes to one hour.


The basis of therapy is anti-inflammatory drugs and analgesics. To relieve inflammation, medications with ibuprofen or diclofenac are used. They also help relieve pain. In addition, to reduce pain, pain medication with ibuprofen or analgin is indicated. It is important to take antispasmodic drugs. This relieves spasm of the muscles of the auditory tube, which increases discomfort and accompanies neuralgia.


To improve the well-being of the patient and accelerate recovery, sedative medications are indicated. They normalize sleep and strengthen the nervous system, which accelerates recovery. Often, therapy is supplemented with B vitamins, vasodilator drugs (for example, with nicotinic acid).

If medication cannot be performed for any reason, physiotherapy is used - electrophoresis, acupuncture, amplipulse.

What do you need to remember?

With ear neuralgia, it is impossible to use folk healing technologies based on exposure to heat. In this case, warming can provoke the advancement of the inflammatory process. If pain in the ear has arisen suddenly, but there is no general malaise and symptoms of a common cold, you should first consult a neurologist.

If discomfort is accompanied by an increase in temperature, you need to go to an otolaryngologist appointment. Often, neuralgia becomes a constant companion to the patient. Due to the fact that the pain does not go away on its own, and the attacks do not last long, people prefer to ignore the discomfort. This approach is wrong, because any ailment should be treated in a timely manner.

Occipital neuralgia

Occipital neuralgia

This ailment is a complex of signs, including symptoms of damage to the nerves that form the cervical plexus. Occipital neuralgia can develop due to the influence of various etiological factors, which include:

  • various intoxications and infections, pathological processes occurring in the cervical segment of the spine - spondylarthrosis, deforming spondylosis;
  • tuberculous spondylitis;
  • diseases of the heart system - hypertension and aneurysm of the vertebral artery in combination with circulatory disorders in the vertebrobasilar system;
  • tumor formation localized in the cervical segment of the spinal cord, crano-spinal zone, posterior cranial fossa;
  • pachymeningitis of the cervical segment.

The treatment of occipital neuralgia includes the use of symptomatic drugs. Also here you need to heal the underlying ailment.


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