Fibromyalgia and Facial Numbness

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Numbness, even facial numbness, is a common symptom of fibromyalgia.  There can be several reasons why you experience facial numbness, but I only listed two possible reasons at the end of this post.  These two are oftendiagnosed in people with fibromyalgia, and are two of the prominent reason why you experience this symptom if you have fibromyalgia.

There are several possible causes of facial numbness, also known as hypesthesia. Most of these causes can be traced to a problem in or affecting the trigeminal nerve. It is one of twelve cranial nerves and is one of the most widely distributed nerves in the head. The cranial nerves can be categorized as two main nerve types: those that control motor responses such as blinking, chewing, or eye muscle movement, and those that respond to the sensations of taste, smell, hearing, and touch.

Numbness is an absence of the sense of touch. The trigeminal nerve, which as the name implies has three branches, controls both the sense of touch in areas in the face as well as the motor function associated with chewing. Damage to this nerve could, therefore, make chewing difficult, if not impossible, which would be a condition of paralysis. Or it could create either a “pins and needles” sensation or a loss of feeling in parts of the face.

Several of the more well-known facial nerves are the oculomotor nerve, which controls the external muscles of the eye, the olfactory nerve, which relays the sense of smell to the brain, and the auditory nerve, which controls balance and hearing. The facial nerve does not relay a sense of touch. It controls the muscles used in facial expressions and should not be confused with the trigeminal nerve, despite its name.

It becomes apparent that if several of these nerves are damaged, a number of different symptoms might be experienced. That is, of course, a somewhat unlikely event. Damage to the cranial nerves in the central nervous system would most likely cause a combination of numbness or paralysis in various parts of the body. Facial numbness in itself would usually be traced back to the trigeminal nerve and that nerve alone. Damage to the facial nerve or a dysfunction of that nerve, such as can be the case with Bell’s palsy, can cause paralysis of the facial muscles but seldom results in numbness.

The Anatomy of the Nerve

It was mentioned earlier that this nerve has three branches. If only one branch is affected, only one part of the face will experience numbness, pain, or some othernerve-related condition. In almost all cases, only one side of the face will be affected because there are two of them, one branching out from each sides of the central nervous system.

The upper branch is called the ophthalmicbranch. This branch supplies sensation to the forehead, most of the scalp, and parts of the front of the face. The middle, or maxillary, branch services the cheek, the top lip, the upper jaw and gums, and the side of the nose. The lower, or mandibular, branch supplies sensation to the lower lip, jaw, teeth, and gums. One of the more unusual types of numbness in the facial area affects only the chin, in which case it is the mandibular branch that has been adversely affected by some condition.

There are approximately 12 primary causes of facial numbness plus the catch-all idiopathic cause where the face can become numb but the cause or causes remain unknown. Some of these causes will result in temporary numbness, some will cause a permanent loss of sensation, and still others can result in alternating periods of numbness or partial numbness together with periods during which normal sensations are felt.

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1) Hypothyroidism


Hypothyroidism
is a condition in which the thyroid gland is under-active and consequently fails to produce an adequate number of certain hormones required by the body. Hypothyroidism upsets the chemical balance the body is constantly attempting to maintain. Over time, hypothyroidism can lead to a number of adverse health conditions. There are many different symptoms that can be experienced by someone who has a hypothyroid condition, numbness to the face or other parts of the body being only one of them. Many different organs can be affected by hypothyroidism so it should come as no surprise that the nervous system could be affected as well. Numbness does not necessarily indicatehypothyroidism, but there have been cases where hypothyroidismhas been found to be either a primary or a contributing factor to the numbness. The numbness itself has also been diagnosed as being a symptom of the condition.

2) Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy refers to disorders of the peripheral nerves. The term once commonlyused for these disorders was neuritis. This tended to suggest the presence of a single type of disorder, but there are a host of different conditions, well over 100 at latest count, that can contribute to this disorder. Insofar as the face becoming involved is concerned, peripheral neuropathy is a kind of catch-all condition since there are so many nervous system disorders that could conceivably cause numbness on one side of the body, an arm, a little toe, or the face.

In summary, the causes of facial numbness can be quite large in number, yet the condition is not all that common. In most all instances, only one side of the face or a part of one side of the face will be involved. These symptoms can be transitory, long-lasting, or repetitive. A feeling may, in some cases, be a temporary, one-time occurrence. At other times the numbness may be symptomatic of an underlying condition that can be quite serious. As is the case with many symptoms, the duration of the symptom, its severity, and whether or not it appears to be chronic will determine if medical attention or advice is needed. One of the greatest dangers lies in the condition known as a transient ischemic attack. It is not dangerous in itself but is often misdiagnosed, if diagnosed at all, and is an indication that the person affected is at a somewhat high risk of experiencing a genuine stroke later on.

Normally, my facial numbness doesn’t bother me too much.  I’ve become used to it over the years.  But when it does become annoying, I use essentialoils to help stimulate the nerves.  The oil I use the most often on my face is helichrysum.  Not only does it stimulate nerves and blood flow, it’s also a great oil for restoring your skin which means it’s good for wrinkles, scars, stretch marks and to soothe minor skin irritations.

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