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Dr. Das, MD
Dr. Das, MD, Doctor
Category: Health
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Every now and then my upper lip will go numb. It usually ...

Customer Question

Every now and then my upper lip will go numb. It usually subsides within about 30 minutes. Last night I woke up about 3 a.m. and my lip had that same numb/tingly sensation. Then it went away. It started happening about a year ago. No reason for the onset that I can determine. It just starts then goes away. I''ll feel it beginning and am aware of it spreading from the corner of my lip over to the center, somtimes a small area, sometimes a bit larger -- always around my upper lip. Once it happened just riding along in the car, lately it has happend while sitting in the sun, and last night while I was sleeping. I am 52 years old, female, and in good physical shape. My questions are: Is this something I should be worried about? What might it be a symptom of? Do I need to see a doctor? What sort of tests might be necessary?
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Health
Expert:  Dr. Das, MD replied 8 years ago.


Do you have any pain or discomfort in the front of the ear on either side?

Especially on the point where the joint of the lower jaw moves - the temperomandibular joint? Can you feel or hear a clicking sound when you place your fingers on the joint?

Do you get frequent headaches?

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
1. No pain in front of the ear on either side. Of course I'm not numb right now, so I don't know if it hurt there at the time of the numbness - but I don't recall noticing anything hurting in front of my ears any of the times I experienced the numbness on my lip.
2. No pain or clicking at my jaw joint.
3. I get headaches but have not had one lately. I did not have one the last several times I had the numbness.
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
I'm not sure what sort of reply you are waiting for. I answered your questions earlier. See directly above. I'm still waiting for your opinion on why I am experiencing this sporadic numbness in my upper lip. My questions are still the same:
1. Is this something I should be worried about? 2. What might it be a symptom of?
3. Do I need to see a doctor?
4. What sort of tests might be necessary?
Expert:  Dr. Das, MD replied 8 years ago.


Sorry for the delay in getting back to you.

The upper lip is supplied by the labial branches of the facial nerve. Any pressure over the facial nerve or the labial branches will cause the type of numbness that you are suffering from.

The most common cause for a pinching of the facial nerve is a condition called temperomandibular syndrome (TMJ) This is condition in which there s inflammation of the joint just in front of the ear. Since the facial nerve enters the face just near this joint, the nerve can also get involved in the inflammation and cause numbness or tingling.

Inflammation can also cause the muscles around the joint to get tense and cause headaches.

Please consult an ENT specialist. You will need a thorough examination as well as tests like Xrays and MRIs for a diagnosis.

You can read more about TMJ here:



I hope this helps.

Let me know if you need more input. If not, please click on the green"Accept" button on this page. A positive rating and adding a bonus will be warmly appreciated.


Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Your answer was not totally helpful. I do not have TMJ. I do not grind my teeth (during the day or at night, I do not have any of the pain associated with TMJ. So, barring that, what I am asking is what might be causing the intermittant numbness in my lip. I cannot afford to have an MRI for somthing that might just be a minor problem that is ok to live with. If it might be something like a brain tumor that's another story. So, if it might be a brain tumor (or some other sort of tumor or equally scary thing) wouldn't there be some other warning signs?