Causes of numbness in the face

Updated February 21, 2017

Numbness in the face can be distressing no matter what the cause. It can be caused by something as minor as sleeping in an odd position, or it can be a sign of a serious medical condition. If numbness in the face persists or if it is accompanied by other symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention immediately to rule out serious causes.


According to the National Institutes of Health, an injury to a nerve in the face, neck or spine can cause numbness in the face. This injury could be the result of a strain or an impact. In regards to the spine, it could be caused by a bulging disk that is putting pressure on a nerve that extends into the face.


Sleeping in a position that puts pressure on facial nerves can cause numbness in the face. Similarly, holding the head at an angle for an extended period of time, such as when reading, typing at a computer or riding in a car can also put pressure on these same nerves. According to the National Institutes of Health, numbness in these cases will be short-lived and followed by a pins-and-needles feeling as sensation returns to the face.


A migraine is an intense headache. For some migraine sufferers, numbness and tingling in the face can be a precursor to the migraine or part of the migraine. According to the National Institutes of Health, the exact cause of migraines is unknown. Some people may have triggers that cause a migraine to happen, such as a food they've eaten or exposure to some type of allergen.

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune condition that affects the brain and nerves that run from the brain and down the spinal cord. Although the symptoms of MS are known to be caused by an inflammation to the outer layer covering the nerves, the cause of this inflammation is unknown. One symptom of MS is numbness in the face or other parts of the body. According to the National Institutes of Health, symptoms of MS can last days or even months.


Numbness on one side of the face can be a sign of a stroke, particularly if other symptoms are present on the same side of the face and body. According to the National Institutes of Health, a stroke is caused by an interruption of the blood supply that goes to the brain. This can mean that blood isn't getting to the brain, or that there is blood pooling in the brain. A stroke is a serious medical condition and requires immediate medical attention.

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About the Author

Sophie Stillwell has been writing professionally since 1992. She is published in "The Gorham Times" newspaper, "Private Colleges & Universities" magazine, on eHow and in several other publications. She has experience working as a paralegal, antiques dealer and neurobehavioral coach. Her writing topics frequently include frugal living, pets and health. Stillwell holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Southern Maine.