How to check cranial nerve 5?

Have you ever wanted to know how to check cranial nerve five? Well, look no further! In this comprehensive guide, we will cover everything you need to know about assessing this vital neurologic function.


Cranial nerve five is also known as the trigeminal nerve. It has three branches: ophthalmic, maxillary, and mandibular. The ophthalmic branch provides sensory innervation to the forehead and nose. The maxillary branch supplies sensation to the upper teeth and gums, cheek area, and nasopharynx. Lastly, the mandibular branch provides sensation to lower teeth and jawline.

Assessing cranial nerve five is crucial in diagnosing a wide array of neurological conditions such as MS (Multiple Sclerosis) or stroke.

So with that said let’s dive right into it!

Initial Assessment

Before testing cranial nerve five fully; one should first make sure that other essential components of neurological assessment are intact.

Visual Inspection

Observe for facial asymmetry or atrophy by carefully inspecting both sides of face for twitches, droops or obvious differences in musculature between two sides while patient smiles etc

Sensory Examination

To rule out any lesions from spinal cord injury,
– Evaluate pain perception via pinprick test on arms.
– Compare bilateral light touch using cotton ball test.

If there are abnormalities found during visual inspection or sensory examinations proceed with detailed examination of CN V which could be due various pathologies like Herpes Zoster which can cause severe neuralgia & paralysis later called Ramsay Hunt Syndrome – Type II).

Assessing Muscle Strength

Trigeminal motor root holds responsibility for movements made by chewing muscles so assessing muscle strength helps us evaluate functionality within this region.

Inspect Mouth Openings

Instruct your client/patient open mouth as widely possible, then test muscle overlap between anterior edges of the mandible and edge soft tissue which means assessing medial pterygoid function through deviation during this maneuver.


Palpate patient’s temporalis masseters muscles; in order to ensure there are no atrophic changes (most common reason for loss of strength), check if resistance can be assessed by sheer force alone against the respective muscle groups.

Sensory Examination

Ophthalmic Branch Testing

Let’s assess each branch of CN V one-by-one⁃ If we Wink or raise our forehead in concern it’s most likely due to neural activity from Ophthalmic branch.
– Test Sensitivity Marker
Light Touch
– Pinprick Test
Next up is assessing sharp pain perception – be very gentle here while testing endpoints with sharp objects like pins to get accurate reading so patient is comfortable.

Maxillary Branch Testing

The maxillary division innervates several different areas including upper lip, cheek area and nasopharynx region so let’s assess these sites on both sides:

Start with sensory examination;
-Light touch
-Cold v/s Hot differentiation ie Temperatures

Followed by motor visual interpretation:
-High nose scrunch
-Cheek puffing
-Lip sealing/calibration

Mandibular Branch Testing

Before we dig into how your face feels below mouth first insure that tongue movement and sensation aren’t being affected- you will cover that next!
Now begin checking out jaw sensations using following techniques,
-Masseter strength attack/Clint Eastwood-like moves
-Jaw refex when tapping underlock
Repeat Bilateral comparison

It hurts now but don’t worry dysaesthesia/hypoaesthesia goes away within few seconds

Reflux Examination

Another important step in examining functionality within this region is testing the mandibular reflex.
– Place tongue blade or other utensil under jaw line
-Stimulate which ultimately causes slight stimulation in ipsilateral masseter muscles

Tactile/Proprioceptive Issues

Lastly, let’s check if you have any proprioceptive issues (the ability to perceive your body’s position) and general tactile sensations.
-Probing by changing the texture of surfaces with consecutive testing
-pinprick test
-Joint Posture positioning comparison

In conclusion, assessing cranial nerve five requires expertise; however, our guide provides step-by-step instructions on how to examine this critical neurological function. Remember that abnormalities can indicate underlying health conditions like MS(Multiple Sclerosis) or stroke so it’s better to be safe than sorry when addressing any symptoms someone may experiencing such as Headache Pain localized around cheekbones/up down teeth.

Now go forth and assess!

Random Posts