Tingling and numbness can be a very worrying symptom. It can be a nuisance, but when it occurs in your fingers, it can interfere with many of the fine tasks that are part of our daily routine, from dressing in the morning to brushing and flossing before bed. Usually, tingling and numbness are related to a pinched or pressured nerve, which can happen at many points along that nerve’s path. Often, TMJ is to blame for distortion of the body’s optimal configuration, making these pinched nerves more likely, but there are also many other potential causes.
Tingling and Numbness in the Face
If you are experiencing tingling and numbness in your face, it’s likely related to pressure on the trigeminal nerve and its branches, which carry sensations from your entire face to your brain.
The trigeminal nerve has three branches. The first is the ophthalmic branch, which gives sensation from the eyeball, most of the nose, eyelids, and forehead. The second branch of the trigeminal nerve is the maxillary nerve, which takes stimuli from most of the interior and bottom of the nose as well as the upper teeth and the cheeks. Finally, the mandibular nerve takes sensations from the lower third of the face, the lower jaw, and the tongue.
Tingling or numbness in the face can be caused by pressure of minor tumors along the trigeminal nerve or by pressure from muscles or blood vessels. Constant tingling is more likely to be related to a (normally benign) tumor while tingling or numbness that comes and goes may be related to TMJ.
Tingling and Numbness in the Hands
Tingling and numbness in the hands is a less common symptom of TMJ. TMJ causes symptoms via the same mechanism that can lead to neck pain or shoulder and back pain. When the jaw is out of balance, jaw muscles may recruit neck muscles for help. That can result in tilts in the neck attempting to compensate for an off-kilter jaw. When the neck tilts, the space for nerves to emerge from between the vertebrae can be narrowed on one side, putting pressure on the nerves, including those that bring sensation from the hand and fingers, resulting in tingling and numbness.
More common causes for tingling and numbness in the hands include carpal tunnel syndrome and diabetic neuropathy.
Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when nerves become pressured in the narrow entrance to the hand through the wrist, called the carpal tunnel. This is often related to injured or irritated tendons, which can swell up, restricting the space. Most often, numbness and tingling from carpal tunnel affects the palm, thumb, index finger, and middle finger, while TMJ-related numbness affects the palm, little finger, and ring finger.
Diabetic neuropathy is when diabetes causes damage to your peripheral nervous system. It is very common among diabetics, and often is the first symptom that brings diabetics to their doctors. Usually, you will experience tingling and numbness in your feet first, but it can begin in the hands first.
Consider TMJ as a cause for your tingling and numbness if you’ve eliminated these causes and have other TMJ symptoms.
To learn whether TMJ is responsible for your tingling and numbness, please call (248) 480-0085 or email the Michigan Center for TMJ & Sleep Wellness today for an appointment.