Description, Causes and Risk Factors:

An abnormal sensation, such as of burning, pricking, tickling, or tingling.

Paresthesia is the condition commonly known as "pins and needles," where part of the body - typically a foot or hand - begins to tingle and becomes numb, or "falls asleep." Paresthesia can occur either on a temporary or on a chronic basis. In most cases, paresthesia is a short-term condition caused by putting pressure on a nerve, and the tingling sensation will diminish within several minutes.

Chronic paresthesia can be the result of nerve irritation, poor circulation, neuropathy, or a number of other conditions or causes. There is no form of long-term physical effect from paresthesia, although its underlying conditions can have a number of effects.

When someone experiences paresthesia on a regular basis, however, it could indicate a more substantial problem within the body. Frequent cases of paresthesia can be symptoms that neurons in the brain are malfunctioning, and are not properly relaying signals to the brain. In such cases, the neural problems may be related to malnutrition, diabetes, a thyroid condition, or another medical problem.

In addition to problems with neuron function, chronic cases of paresthesia can also be associated with damage to the nerves themselves. Some likely causes of nerve damage are Lyme disease or multiple sclerosis; a brain tumor can also have similar effects.

Risk factors may include:


  • Anticonvulsant drugs.

  • Atherosclerosis.

  • Autoimmune disorders.

  • Beta-alanine ingestion.

  • Dehydration.

  • Diabetes.

  • Fabry disease.

  • Fibromyalgia (FMS).

  • Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS).

  • Heavy metal poisoning.

  • Herpes zoster (shingles).

  • Hyperventilation.

  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

  • Hypoparathyroidism.

  • Hypothyroidism.

  • Immune deficiency.

  • Lidocaine poisoning.

  • Lupus erythematosus.

  • Lyme disease.

  • Malnutrition.

  • Menopause.

  • Metabolic disorders.

  • Migraines.

  • Motor neuron diseases.

  • Multiple sclerosis (MS).

  • Nerve irritation.

  • Neurological disorders.

For people who are experiencing a "pins and needles" sensation on a frequent basis, it is important to see a doctor who can test for any of the serious conditions that may cause paresthesia.


The symptoms of paresthesia may include:


  • Tingling.

  • Itching.

  • Footdrop.

  • Dysarthria.

  • Muscular atrophy.

  • Ocular dysmetria.

  • Crawling sensation on the skin.

  • Falling asleep of limbs such as a hand, foot, arm, leg, etc.


A diagnostic evaluation of paresthesia is based on determination of the underlying condition that is causing the person to experience paresthesia sensations. Person's medical history, in combination with a physical examination and laboratory testing, are essential for a diagnosis.A doctor might order other tests depending upon the suspected cause of the paresthesia the person is experiencing.


The plans for treatment of paresthesia are very personalized depending on the reason, the age of the individual, the presence of co-existing diseases, as well as further factors. Treatment normally entails a comprehensive plan which focuses on the underlying or the related cause and assists to lessen the atypical sensations of paresthesia so that the patient can lead a normal, active life.

In ordinary cases of the temporary "pins and needles," the sensation can generally be relieved by vigorous movement of the affected limb. Generally, as soon as pressure on the nerve is relieved, the problem will begin to go away on its own. When the paresthesia is related to a more severe condition, the sensation of numbness will often be cured with the treatment for the condition. Patients who suffer from multiple sclerosis frequently take prescribed drugs that alleviate many of their symptoms, including paresthesia.

Some forms of alternative therapy may also help get rid of paresthesia. For example, as paresthesia is often related to a vitamin deficiency, it may be helpful to take vitamin supplements, as recommended by a physician. Massage and acupuncture have also been known to help treat paresthesia.

NOTE: The above information is educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.

DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.


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