Paresthesia is a condition in which the affected individual may experience tingling, numbness, burning, prickling, or itching. These sensations may be felt in the fingers, hands, toes, or feet. A number of neurological and orthopedic conditions can result in Paresthesia. Available treatments may be based upon the root cause of this condition.

What Is Paresthesia?

It is not uncommon for many people to experience a prickling or burning sensation from time to time. This sensation usually occurs without any warning and does not include any pain.

Temporary Paresthesia

Sometimes the sensation often described as 'pins and needles' is quite common and temporary. You might experience this feeling if you fall asleep with your arm in a certain position or if you sit for a long period of time with your legs crossed. This sensation is the result of prolonged pressured on a nerve. Once the pressure is relieved, the feeling typically goes away.

Chronic Paresthesia

Some individuals may experience chronic paresthesia. This is usually a symptom of severe underlying conditions. Disorders in which the central nervous system is affected, including strokes and multiple sclerosis, can result in chronic paresthesia. These chronic sensations can also be the result of pressure forming against the spinal cord or brain due to a tumor. When paresthesia is accompanied by pain, it may be the result of a condition in which the nerves become entrapped, such as carpal tunnel syndrome. In order to determine the root cause of paresthesia, a diagnostic evaluation is necessary. During the evaluation, the physician will perform an exam and take the patient's medical history. Lab tests may also be necessary.

Here is a video to introduce paresthesia

What Are the Symptoms of Paresthesia?

image001Paresthesia may affect different people in different ways. Some people have described it as numbness or tingling while others explain it as an itching or burning sensation. Depending upon the affected area of the body, these sensations may also include other symptoms as well as pain. It is important to report related to symptoms to your physician as this can assist with making a proper diagnosis. Other symptoms that may be associated with paresthesia include the need to urinate frequently, anxiety, rashes, muscle spasms, or a sensitivity to touch. You may also experience a greater degree of paresthesia while performing certain tasks or walking.


Complications and even permanent damage can arise if paresthesia is not treated. If you experience any type of abnormal sensations, it is important to consult your healthcare professional. Upon diagnosis of the underlying condition, your doctor can provide you with a customized treatment plan to help prevent possible complications that might include disability, chronic pain, difficulty breathing on your own, and paralysis.

When to See a Doctor

A life-threatening condition may arise in some situations. If so, it is imperative that you receive immediate medical attention. Symptoms that might indicate the presence of a life-threatening condition include difficulty walking, loss of consciousness, confusion, loss of bladder control, dizziness, problems walking, slurred speech, and loss of strength. You should also call 911 if you or someone you know experiences paresthesia after sustaining a neck, back, or head injury.

What Causes Paresthesia?

Nerve damage or compression is the most common cause of paresthesia. Several disorders and diseases can result in nerve injury, thus causing symptoms related to paresthesia. Any activity that results in prolonged pressure to the nerves can result in temporary paresthesia. Orthopedic and neurological conditions can also cause paresthesia.

Orthopedic Causes

Moderate to severe orthopedic conditions can result in damage or injury to the nerves and symptoms associated with paresthesia. Some conditions might include bone fractures, neck or back injuries, osteoporosis, carpal tunnel syndrome, herniated disk, or degenerative disk damage. A too-tight cast can also cause paresthesia.

Neurological Causes

Paresthesia may also be the result of several neurological diseases and disorders, such as brain tumors, alcoholism, diabetic neuropathy, multiple sclerosis, encephalitis, stroke, mini-strokes, or transverse myelitis. A Vitamin B12 deficiency can also cause symptoms of paresthesia.

How Is Paresthesia Treated?

Paresthesia treatment is often based upon the ability to obtain an accurate diagnosis regarding the underlying condition. Temporary paresthesia can often be resolved by massaging the affected area to restore circulation. When paresthesia is caused by a chronic disease or condition, the goal of treatment is often aimed at relieving the relevant symptoms. For mild symptoms, taking medications such as ibuprofen may be sufficient.

In some instances, low doses of antidepressant medications may be required in order to alter pain perception. Alternative treatments are available, including nutritional therapy, which may be helpful in cases where the cause is related to a vitamin deficiency. Massage therapy and acupuncture have also proven helpful for some people in relieving paresthesia symptoms. Wearing loose-fitting clothing and shoes can also help to relieve symptoms.

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