Facial numbness is not an actual disease. It is a symptom which may accompany a variety of medical conditions. In some cases the feeling of numbness is transient while in others it can prolong for a long time or even be permanent.
Facial numbness can occur alone or it can be followed by other distorted sensations such as tingling or prickling sensations. These sensations in most cases precede the sensation of numbness. Apart from additional changes in sensorium a patient can also complain about numerous additional symptoms which actually depend on the underlying condition. The degree of numbness can vary and it can be rather mild or well-developed. Fully developed numbness is a symptom of paralysis.
Causes of Facial Numbness
Facial numbness results from the structural changes of nerves that innervate the face. Branches of trigeminal nerve as well as facial nerve innervate different parts of the face and if they are affected by some damaging process facial numbness occurs.
In Bell's palsy the cause of facial numbness is compression of the facial nerve. There are two forms of facial nerve paralysis, central and peripheral. The difference between two of them is that in central paralysis the numbness only affects middle and lower part of one half of the face while in peripheral numbness the entire half of the face may be numb. The exact cause of Bell's palsy has not been found yet, but some doctors assume that it is caused by viral infections.
Trigeminal neuralgia is another cause of facial numbness. In trigeminal neuralgia the pain is the leading symptom and numbness can be additional symptom of the disease.
In multiple sclerosis the destruction of myelin can also affect facial nerves which consequently results in facial numbness. The numbness in multiple sclerosis can affect each and every body part depending on the affected nerve.
Another cause of facial numbness is pinched nerve. Pinched ophthalmic, maxillary and mandibular nerve most commonly leads to facial numbness.
Even certain disorders of central nervous system can cause facial numbness. They include transient ischemic attack and a stroke.
People who suffer from specific vitamin deficiencies are other potential candidates for facial numbness. For example vitamin B12 deficiency as well as deficiency of potassium, calcium or sodium may feature with facial numbness.
Facial numbness can also occur in shingles. In shingles numbness only affects parts of the face and is accompanied by severe pain.
And finally, plenty of additional causes can lead to facial numbness. Still they are not so common and they do not have to be followed by this symptom. They include severe migraines, diabetic neuropathy and many more. And, even certain medication can be a cause of facial numbness.