June 16, 2010

Causes & Symptoms of Facial Paresthesia

Posted in Category : Common Ailments

Paresthesia means a tingling, pricking, or burning sensation on the surface of the skin. Commonly, this feeling is referred to as ‘pins and needles’. The numb sensation might be momentary or chronic. Facial paresthesia would be tingling in the face and jaw bone area. The transient tingling sensation is what one oft gets in the hands and feet, which reduces when the nerve in pressure is released. The condition becomes severe when parasthesia indicates the presence of problem in the neurons. Paresthesia is often a result of poor circulation.

Causes and symptoms

Paresthesia could be a symptom of damaged, injured or diseased nerves. It also could be an indicator of more complicated illnesses, for example, nerve entrapment, wherein pressure is applied directly on the spinal attachment of the nerve. Diseases that can affect the nerves leading to paresthesia include diabetes, diabetic neuropathy, multiple sclerosis, and neuropathy. Facial paresthesia or tingling on the face cannot be left unattended as there can be other underlying problems that need immediate medical care.

Facial paresthesia can be caused by nerve dysfunction or nerve damage or be a result of injury to the face or exposure to extreme cold. Nerve damage or neuropathy has no known cause, but it is a disorder in which the nerves that carry signals from the brain to the body do not work properly. In this condition, there is tingling of face, and if the tingling is accompanied by numbness of the arms or legs on one side of the body, it could be a symptom of stroke. Facial paresthesia can be chronic when triggered by multiple sclerosis.

The extent of facial paresthesia or tingling face depends on the cause. Symptoms of tingling face can be set off suddenly if the cause is injury or exposure to cold. In other cases, facial numbness and tingling could be due to underlying neuropathy, which develops slowly and persists over a period of time and worsens. Dental extraction can also cause facial paresthesia. Tumors can also form beneath the nerve itself causing facial numbness and tingling. Persistent tingling on the face needs immediate medical attention.

Nerve Distribution

The sensitivity of the face and the top of the head is managed by the right and left trigeminal nerve, which originates from the brainstem and further divides into three branches. The ophthalmic nerve enters the face above the eye, the maxillary nerve enters the face beneath the eye, and the mandibular nerve travels along the inner side of the jawbone and along the chin. These three nerves are responsible for feeling and sensation in the whole face and head.

Nerve Pain

Any illness that affects the nerves leading to the face or the jaw causes ophthalmic nerve pain, facial paresthesia, and jaw bone pain. The causes for ophthalmic pain can be neurological disorders, vascular disorders like atherosclerosis, infections like meningitis, epilepsy, tumors, Lyme’s disease, trigeminal neuralgia, and Guillain-Barre syndrome. In addition to the symptoms specific to these diseases, facial paresthesia and jaw bone pain are also present.

Jaw bone ache can be due to jaw injury, mandibular fractures that can include bleeding from the mouth, bruising, jaw pain while chewing or biting, facial numbness, and reduced movement of the jaws. Tooth abscesses caused by bacterial infection along with pus formation within the tooth can also trigger jaw bone ache. This oft caused by poor dental hygiene and due to eating the wrong diet.

When to call the doctor

It is important to consult your doctor or call an emergency number if your numbing or tingling sensation goes beyond the face to the arms and the legs; if there is tingling sensation at the back of your head or the neck; or if you have slurred speech and feel confused and disoriented. Any unusual symptoms without reason also warrant immediate medical attention.


  1. www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003206.htm