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Cranial Nerves and Their Functions

Did you know that there are 12 pairs of cranial nerves that perform some highly sophisticated functions? Some of these direct the activities of our muscles, some relay information from the sensory organs to the brain, and some are linked to internal organs such as the heart and lungs. Injuries to the neck and head can affect these nerves, leading to many ailments besides just headaches and neck pain!

Each of the cranial nerves is referred to by Roman Numerals:

i. Olfactory – linked to the sense of smell

ii. Optic – linked to vision

iii. Oculomotor – connected to eye movement and dilating the pupils

iv. Trochlear – also connected to eye movement, particularly eyelids and eyeball

v. Trigeminal – linked to facial sensation and chewing

vi. Abducens – linked to side-to-side eye movement

vii. Facial – controls facial movements, taste and sensory information from the ear

viii. Vestibulocochlear – relates to hearing and sense of balance

ix. Glossopharyngeal – controls muscles for swallowing and our sensation of taste

x. Vagus – motor function to the larynx, modulates heart rate and digestive organs

xi. Spinal Accessory – controls the muscles responsible for head movement

xii. Hypoglossal – controls the muscles of the tongue

Of course, any type of disease, injury or accident to a cranial nerve may affect the functioning of what that specific nerve controls. Just as chiropractors can test the functioning of nerves that exit along your spine, there are tests which can reveal whether each cranial nerve is functioning properly.

Related posts:

  1. Sciatica: The River of Nerves
  2. Whiplash Injuries and Chiropractic
  3. What’s the Brain Stem?
  4. Don’t Worry, Be Happy

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