Anatomy & Organs

Facial muscles – structure, function & diseases

Facial muscles

The facial muscles are a complex structure that performs important tasks and is an expression of both physical and mental well-being.

What are facial muscles?

The facial muscles include all 26 muscles that are located in the area of ​​the human face . In medical terminology, the facial muscles are referred to as the facial muscles. Since, unlike skeletal muscles , they do not have to mobilize any joints, they are directly connected to the skin over them and radiate into them. They control the physical representation of emotions, so they are primarily responsible for human facial expressions.

Anatomy & Structure

Unlike most skeletal muscles, the majority of facial muscles have no fascia . The transmission and processing of stimuli from the facial muscles takes place via the 7th cranial nerve, the facial nerve . Because the human face is generally axisymmetric, almost every facial muscle exists twice.The facial musculature itself is divided into five different areas: the nasal musculature, the ear musculature, the mouth musculature, the musculature of the eyelid fissure and the cranial musculature. The nasal muscles are made up of three muscles:

  • The Musculus nasalis lies above the nostrils and has the task of pulling them down or backwards.
  • The procerus muscle runs from the bridge of the nose up to the forehead . It is used to raise the side of the eyebrows facing the nose .
  • The third nasal muscle is called the musculus levator labii superioris alaeque nasi and moves the nostrils and upper lip upwards. With bilateral contraction, it also lifts the tip of the nose.

The ear is moved by three muscles, the anterior , posterior , and superior auricular muscles . Theoretically, they serve to move the auricle to all sides. However, not all people are able to actively contract them and wiggle their ears . By far the most facial muscles are found in the mouth . Four muscles are responsible for the movement of the lip . The orbicularis oris muscle runs along the mouth, closing the mouth gap and pursing the lips at maximum contraction. The levator labii superioris muscle is used to raise the upper lipMusculus depressor labii inferioris to pull down the lower lip. The zygomatici major and minor muscles raise the corners of the mouth. Another four muscles control the movement of the corners of the mouth. The depressor anguli oris muscle pulls them down and the levator anguli oris muscle pulls them up. The musculus risorius , colloquially known as the laughing muscle, allows the corners of the mouth to move sideways. One of the most important muscles of the mouth is the buccinator muscle . This makes blowing, spitting, sucking and whistling possible. The muscles of the skullcap are often referred to as one muscle, the epicranius muscle, called. They raise their eyebrows and frown and flatten their brows. Finally, the palpebral fissure muscle, the orbicularis oculi muscle , which snakes its way around almost the entire eye , is responsible for opening and closing the eyes and pulling down the eyebrows.

Function & TasksDue to their contraction, the facial muscles are responsible for the movement of the facial skin and thus also for human facial expressions, although only eight are actually responsible for the facial expression itself. The other muscles of the face are also capable of contraction and movement, but these are not visible from the outside.

As a result, the facial muscles play an enormously important role in non-verbal human communication, which is made possible in the first place by the various facial expressions. The expression of numerous emotions also runs through the contraction of the facial muscles. Emotions such as joy, sorrow, sadness or hatred are conveyed to the outside world through various facial expressions.

In addition, the facial muscles also perform important physical functions such as opening and closing the eyes or mouth, without which elementary bodily functions such as seeing or eating would hardly be possible.

Diseases & Ailments

Discomfort in the facial muscles often occurs as a symptom of serious diseases of the central nervous system . For example, in the course of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS disease), there is a weakening and increasing atrophy of the facial muscles, which over time leads to a slow loss of facial expressions.Facial muscle weakness also develops in myotonic dystrophy (DM), which can manifest as drooping eyelids , an inability to laugh widely, and a progressive speech disorder due to weakness of the mouth muscles .

In addition, strokes also carry the risk of one-sided facial paralysis in most cases if the area in the brain responsible for this has been affected by the stroke. However, facial paralysis ( facial paralysis ) can also occur suddenly and for no apparent reason.

In this case, those affected suddenly lose control of their facial muscles and can no longer laugh, wrinkle their nose or control their facial expressions. The muscles then hang limply, usually on only one half of the face. The positive thing about this form of facial paralysis is that with the right treatment, in most cases it can be cured and the symptoms completely eliminated.

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.