Eliminate Other Common Causes of Tingling Fingers

TMJ is not the most common cause of tingling and numbness in the fingers. It’s a good idea to consider and rule out other possible causes of tingling fingers before seeking TMJ treatment. More common causes to consider include:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Diabetes
  • Poor circulation
  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Reynaud’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Stroke

If your doctor has eliminated these causes of tingling and numbness, consider TMJ as an explanation. You might consider TMJ as a potential cause first if you also have multiple other TMJ symptoms.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

woman holding onto her wrist in discomfortCarpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the nerves bringing sensation to and from your fingers get irritated and swell up as they pass through a narrow passage in the wrist called the carpal tunnel. When the nerves swell, they put pressure on each other, which reduces the ability of the nerves to carry sensory impulses, causing a feeling of numbness or tingling.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is more likely to affect your thumb through your ring finger. If your pinky is affected by tingling, it’s more likely to be TMJ or another cause.


People with diabetes often develop nerve damage. This is known as diabetic neuropathy. Suspect this if you have diabetes, especially if you also experience tingling and numbness in your feet.

Poor Circulation

Poor circulation can keep your hands and feet from getting the nutrients they need to fully deliver sensations. Suspect this cause if your doctor has diagnosed you with a vascular condition. If this is the cause, you are more likely to experience it when holding your hand above your heart.

Vitamin Deficiency

If you’re not getting enough vitamins, it can lead to nerve problems. These nerve problems can cause tingling and numbness in your hands. Make sure you’re getting enough B-vitamins and vitamin E.

Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol abuse can deplete the vitamins in your body. This can lead to nerve degeneration, what some people call alcoholic neuropathy.

Reynaud’s Disease

This condition, also called Reynaud’s phenomenon, occurs when your blood vessels constrict in response to cold or stress. It causes temporary numbness or tingling in your hands by restricting the blood supply, but it passes when your hand warms or stress diminishes.

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) can cause widespread nerve damage. You might notice it first in your hands, but it may eventually affect your entire body.


Stroke occurs when the brain’s blood flow is obstructed. Tingling and numbness in the hands can be one symptom. If you also experience vision problems and cognitive difficulties with your hand numbness, seek emergency medical attention to avoid significant brain damage.

How TMJ Causes Nerve Problems

When your jaw is out of balance, your jaw muscles pull one way or another, twisting the jaw at an angle. Your neck muscles feel this pull when partnering with the jaw muscles for chewing, swallowing, or just maintaining balance. This doesn’t just transfer tension—which can result in neck, shoulder, or back pain—it can pull the neck vertebrae out of place.

The human body is like a tower of bricks. In order to maintain balance, when bricks tilt one way, other bricks tilt the other way. This can cause your vertebrae to twist to one side or the other. When they do this, they can put excess pressure on the nerves that emerge from the spine to carry signals to and from the hands. The result is the numbness, tingling, and electric shocks you feel.

The nerves that run to your fingers encounter tight passages at several points along the way. In addition to the spine, these nerves might experience pressure if your shoulder muscles are displaced because of misaligned neck vertebrae and/or neck muscles recruited by jaw muscles.

As we noted, this is not the most common symptom of TMJ, but people with TMJ may be nearly four times as likely as others to report pain and other symptoms in the hands, shoulders, and other joints.

Why Doctors and Chiropractors May Not Help (Much)

When you report tingling fingers or numbness in your hands, your doctor may look for local causes. They may ask you about all the potential causes above. Not finding local nerve problems, they may tell you that there’s no problem. They may notice a spine problem and recommend physical therapy (PT) or a chiropractor.

PT or a chiropractor can help with some of the local causes of numbness. PT can help relieve muscle tension, while a chiropractor can help align your vertebrae. In either case, unless you fix the root cause—your jaw misalignment—the symptoms will likely return.

Is TMJ Your Problem?

The only way to know for sure whether TMJ is to blame for symptoms of tingling fingers or numbness is to be evaluated by a TMJ dentist. For evaluation of your TMJ in Denver, please contact the TMJ Therapy & Treatment Center of Colorado by calling (303) 691-0267 today.