How TMJ Causes Tingling and Numbness in the Face

Tingling and numbness occurs when there is mild pressure on a nerve. This interferes with nerve signals from the area served by the nerve. Instead of normal sensory signals from the nerve, incomplete signals are received, or, sometimes, no signals are received. If the pressure increases, pain may be felt instead of tingling or numbness.

Pressure on the nerves can be caused by muscles, blood vessels, or even small tumors. Sensations of tingling and numbness that tend to come and go, whether they seem to be directly related to jaw motion or not, are more likely to be related to TMJ. Tingling or numbness that is constant is more likely to be related to the presence of a tumor.

The primary nerve that carries nerve signals from the face is the trigeminal nerve, which has three branches. The ophthalmic branch carries sensations from the eyeball, nose, and forehead. The maxillary branch carries nerve signals from some of the nose, including the nostrils, the cheeks, and upper teeth. The mandibular nerve carries signals from the lower jaw and tongue. Tingling is typically confined to just one branch of the trigeminal nerve, but sometimes all three branches are affected.

How TMJ Can Cause Tingling and Numbness in the Hands

Although tingling and numbness in the face is a relatively common symptom of TMJ, tingling and numbness in the hands is rarer. If you are experiencing tingling and numbness in the hand, it’s best to consider more common causes such as carpal tunnel or diabetic neuropathy.

TMJ can cause tingling and numbness in the hands because it sets off an imbalance in the neck vertebrae. The jaw and jaw muscles are partly responsible for holding the neck upright, and when the jaw is out of balance, the neck corrects by tilting in a complementary direction. This tilt causes the vertebrae to close together on one side of the neck. This can put pressure on the nerves that emerge from between the vertebrae, including the nerves that supply sensation to the fingers. This mild pressure leads to sensations of tingling and numbness in the hand. Normally one hand is affected.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the most common causes of tingling and numbness in the hands. It occurs when the narrow tunnel that allows the nerves to entire the hand becomes restricted, putting pressure on the nerves that carry sensation from your hands. Like TMJ, carpal tunnel may affect just one hand. The easiest distinction between the two conditions is that carpal tunnel normally causes numbness in the palm, thumb, index finger, and middle finger, while TMJ causes numbness in the palm, ring finger, and little finger.

Diabetic neuropathy is damage to the peripheral nervous system caused by diabetes. Although it’s related to diabetes, most people who experience it don’t know they have diabetes—it’s often the first symptom. Diabetic neuropathy often starts with damage to the nerves in the feet, but it can begin in the hands.

If you have eliminated other options and think that TMJ might be responsible for your tingling and numbness in the fingers, please call (201) 343-4044 or email the River Edge Center for TMJ, Sleep Apnea, & Reconstructive Dentistry.