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The auricularis muscles are a group of three separate muscles which are attached to the cartilage found on the external portion of the ear. These muscles work to move the scalp and to point the auricula in the direction of a source of sound. The auricula is the part of the outer ear which works to collect sound vibrations from the air. The three muscles which work to create the auricularis muscle group are called the anterior auricular muscle, the superior auricular muscle, and the posterior auricular muscle.
The first auricularis muscle is referred to as the anterior auricular muscle. This muscle is the smallest of the three auricularis muscles. The anterior auricular muscle resembles a fan and has a rather thin-looking appearance. This particular muscle begins at the galea aponeurotica, a layer of tissue covering the cranium. From there, the muscle fibers insert into the front portion of the helix, a prominence found on the rim of the visible part of the outer ear.
The largest muscle in the auricularis muscle group is the superior auricular muscle. Much like the anterior auricular muscle, the superior auricular muscle is thin and shaped like a fan. This muscle also originates at the galea aponeurotica. The superior auricular muscle inserts into this cranial surface via a flat tendon connecting to the auricula.
The final auricularis muscle is the posterior auricular muscle. This muscle is made up of between two and three fasciculi, or bundles of muscle fibers, that begin at the temporal bones. These bones are found at the base and on the sides of the skull. The muscle fibers of the posterior auricular muscle are then inserted into the concha, a part of the outer ear.
The temporal branches of the facial nerve are responsible for providing the nerve supply for all three of the auricularis muscles. These nerves cross what is known as the zygomatic arch, more popularly known as the cheek bone. From the cheek bone, the temporal nerves travel throughout the temporal region of the head, eventually joining with both the maxillary and mandibular nerves. These nerves are also responsible for the nerve supply in the facial areas of the head.
Traumatic injury or natural disease can potentially cause muscle damage affecting the auricularis muscles and surrounding tissues. Treatment options are dependent upon the extent of the injury as well as the patient's response to treatment. These treatment options can range from over-the-counter medications in mild cases or even surgical intervention when more serious damage has been sustained.