The auriculotemporal nerve originates from the back part of the mandibular nerve, which travels alongside the superficial temporal vein and artery. It supplies nerves to several regions on the sides of the head.
The two roots of this nerve surround the medial meningeal artery, and finally combine into a single nerve. This nerve runs on the inside of the upper part of the mandible, or lower jawbone, and turns over the jawbone’s uppermost tip after giving off parotid branches. From there it gives off the auricle's anterior branches and goes across the root of the temporal bone, which lies near the front of the exterior ear.
This nerve supplies the external acoustic meatus (ear canal), auricle (what people usually call the ear), external part of the tympanic membrane (eardrum), and the temporal skin, which is on the sides of the head. Several articular branches are also carried with the nerve, which supply blood to the temporomandibular joints (TMJ).
The auriculotemporal nerve is the primary nerve to supply the TMJ, together with the masseteric nerve branches and the deep temporal. This nerve may suffer injury during TMJ surgery, which may cause parasthesia of the auricle and the ear region. Parathesia is a condition where a person feels unusual sensations, such as tingling, burning, or itching.