How TMJ Can Cause Tingling or Numbness in Your Fingers
The mechanism that causes tingling and numbness in fingers is similar to the one that leads to face, neck, shoulder, and back pain.
Because of our vertical posture, the human body is built like a tower of blocks that has to be carefully balanced. When your jaw rests higher on one side than the other, what we describe as a “rolled” jaw, your body has to compensate somehow. To maintain balance, your body will compensate by titling your shoulders in the opposite direction.
An illustration of a person’s skeleton and how vertical posture and how the human body is built like a tower of blocks that it needs to be balanced.
When your shoulder tilts in this way, it puts strains on some of your muscles, such as the scalene muscles in your neck, which often experience spasms as a result. The nerves that control your arms emerge from your neck vertebrae here and pass between the scalene muscles. Spasms in these muscles put pressure on the nerves and cause paresthesia.
Tingling and Numbness in the Jaw and Face
As with tingling and numbness caused in other parts of the body, this is usually related to pressure on a nerve that prevents sensation from being communicated between that part of the body and the brain. In the face and jaw, the responsible nerve is the trigeminal nerve and its branches, which you might remember are closely linked to migraines. In fact, some people develop this tingling and numbness in the early stages of TMJ, when pressure on the nerve is mild. As it grows more intense, the tingling can turn to pain.
Where you feel the tingling depends on what part of the trigeminal nerve is being pressured. The ophthalmic branch carries sensations from the eyeball, nose, eyelids, and foreheads. The maxillary branch takes stimuli from some parts of the nose, as well as your cheeks and upper teeth. The mandibular branch is going to cause tingling in the jaw, as well as the chin and tongue.