Paresthesia is the condition in which one experience a tingling or prickling sensation in his feet and arms. Often it occurs on the extremities of the body but sometime it can occur in other parts of the body. It can be described as “skin crawling” process but will not cause any pain.
Very often we all will experience paresthesia temporarily due to restricted blood flow. You may feel numbness on your legs when you get up after sitting for long hours. This disorder occurs when the pressure is built up on the nerve for long time. Most of the time, the strange feeling will disappear once the pressure is relieved.
Paresthesia is a neurological problem and caused by various problems in central nervous system like stroke, ischemic attacks, multiple sclerosis and presence of tumors in brain or spine. It occurs as strong symptom in people with carpal tunnel syndrome.
You should seek immediate medical care if you have numbness in your hands and legs along with paralysis, confusion of thoughts, slurred speech and loss of bowel control since it can be serious. Paresthesia is generally a mild problem and it very rarely causes complications. But you need to explore the underlying medical issues since paresthesia can be a symptom.
Paresthesia is caused due to prolonged nerve compression or nerve damage. Generally it is a symptom of underlying medical problem or disorder or nerve injury. Sitting in the same position for extended hours can develop nerve pressure on the legs and it can cause tingling sensation when you get up.
Certain orthopedic conditions like neck injury, bone fractures, tightened casting, herniated disk and disorders on the nervous system can cause paresthesia. Paresthesia can develop due to neurological reasons that include brain tumor, alcoholism, and diabetic neuropathy, tangled knot of veins that exerts force on the spine, heavy metal poisoning, multiple sclerosis, peripheral neuropathy, stroke, transient ischemic attack and spinal cord injury. Even deficiency of vitamin B12 can cause paresthesia symptoms.
Paresthesia Signs and Symptoms
Paresthesia is not a disease by itself but is a symptom of underlying neurological disease. The symptoms of paresthesia differ widely from one person to another depending on the causative factor and intensity of underlying disease. It can be temporary or chronic.
Tingling sensation, numbness, itching sensation, footdrop, dysarthria, crawling sensation, ocular dysmetria, muscular atrophy and numbness in legs and hands are some of the common symptoms of paresthesia.
Some people may describe the symptoms as pins and needles, and others may feel like burning sensation. It can cause intense pain on some parts of the body where nerves are affected. In addition to the above, there can be anxiety, muscle spasms, frequent urination and sensitivity to touch on the affected part of the skin. In rare cases, there can be serious symptoms along with tingling sensation like paralysis, confusion, dizziness, difficulty in breathing, loss of vision and loss of bladder control.
The doctor will physically examine the body and collect information about the nature of symptoms experienced by the person. He would get the complete medical history of the patient and would order for blood culture in the lab. Based on the seriousness of the symptoms felt by the person, he may order for various tests.
Transient paresthesia can cause panic attack and chronic paresthesia can be due to nerve pressure or poor circulation of blood or peripheral neuropathy. It is for the doctor to confirm the diagnoses before proceeding for treatment. Any undue delay in the treatment for paresthesia can cause partial paralysis on the affected part of the body like legs or hands. It can affect the loss of sensation permanently for some people based on the underlying medical issues.
Treatment options are varied depending on the underlying medical cause. In case poor circulatory problem is the actual cause of tingling sensation in the legs or hands, then your doctor will recommend doing stretching exercises and massaging the limbs to reduce the symptoms.
If the causative factor is diabetes then medications are prescribed for controlling blood sugar levels. Sometimes paresthesia symptoms can occur due to side effects of chemotherapy then suitable anti-inflammatory drugs are given for relieving pain.
For moderate and severe symptoms, antidepressant drug like Amitriptyline is given. Usually low dose of this medication is started to get good relief from the symptoms. Actually the feeling of pain is felt due to brain’s command and by taking this drug you may not feel the pain. In severe cases, opium derivatives are also given based on the seriousness of symptoms and health condition of the patient.
For vitamin B12 deficiency diet rich in vitamins are suggested. In addition vitamin supplement is given in the form of oral pills. Overdoses of vitamins should be avoided since it can cause paresthesia symptoms. Corticosteroid mediations are recommended for reducing the discomfort feeling in the affected person. Topical creams like Lidocaine is also useful in providing relief.
Massage therapy, acupuncture and aroma therapy are followed by some people for getting relief from the symptoms like tingling sensation and numbness.