Have you ever felt like your skin was buzzing, or had numbness or itching for no obvious cause? Do you feel a’ pins and needles’ feeling when you’ve sat on your leg or palm for too long? Well, this phenomenon is very common and is known as paresthesia.
Paresthesia is numbness or a burning feeling that most commonly happens in the extremities, such as the palms, limbs, legs, or feet, but it may also occur elsewhere in the body. Nearly everyone has often felt paresthesia. One of the most frequent ways people have the uncomfortable feeling of pins and needles is when their arms or legs “go asleep.”
Typically this experience happens when you have unintentionally placed nerve pressure on. Although, this may resolve automatically, if you shift your position and the pressure would be removed from the affected nerve.
This form of paresthesia is temporary and typically recovers without medication. But if paresthesia persists for a longer time period, then it may be hinting towards a serious medication.
Here we’ve rounded up everything that you need to know about this medical condition.
Causes of paresthesia
Pressure on the nerves is responsible for paresthesia. The cause of paresthesia is not always determinable. Temporary paresthesia is mostly due to nerve strain or brief bursts of inadequate circulation.
This will happen if you fall asleep on your side or stay for too long with your legs crossed. Chronic paresthesia has the potential to be a sign of nerve damage.
Chronic paresthesia is induced by a variety of factors:
- An injury or accident that caused damage to your nerves
- A stroke or mini-stroke — if blood flow to your brain is cut off and damage occurs.
- Multiple sclerosis — a central nervous system disease which affects how your body feels
- Diabetes- a blood sugar disease that can destroy the nerves over time
- A pinched nerve (often from injury or overuse in your neck, shoulder, or arm)
- Sciatica — the sciatic nerve strain, a common condition during breastfeeding that normally triggers numbness and pain in the back or legs
- Carpal tunnel syndrome — where the tiny tunnel extending from your elbow to your lower palm is too long, causing discomfort and numbness in your forearm, elbow, hand, and finger
- A lack of certain vitamins, particularly low levels of vitamin B12, which is essential for nervous health
- Drinking alcohol
- Certain medicines — such as certain forms of chemotherapy that cause nerve pain or injury, as well as certain antibiotics, HIV and anti-seizure medicines
Symptoms of paresthesia
- Paresthesia signs, or a pinched nerve, include:
- Tingling, or something like “pins and needles”
- Burning or weeping suffering
- Nausea or bad feeling in the region affected
- Feeling the affected area “dropped asleep”
- Prickling or itchy sensation
- Cold or hot skin
Symptoms can be chronic or temporary. These stimuli typically appear in the region affected but can extend to the rest of the body part.
How is paresthesia diagnosis done?
When you have chronic paresthesia with no clear reason, consult with the doctor.
A specialist should then take a personal background to determine paresthesia, then ask concerns regarding the signs of an individual.
Mention certain tasks that you take part in include any repeated activity. You should also mention any prescription or over the counter medicines that you are taking.
The specialist would usually conduct a medical evaluation and is likely to prescribe some tests based on the findings of his study –
- Nerve conduction study: It tests how fast nerve impulses move inside the muscles.
- Electromyography (EMG): To look at how nerves and muscles interact.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging ( MRI): This is used to take a closer look at the various areas of the body.
- Ultrasound: is used to create images of the body and may be extended to smaller areas of the body to check for nerve compression or injury, such as happens in carpal tunnel syndrome.
The type of examination administered by the doctor will depend on the outcomes of those examinations, including the symptoms and medical records of a person.
Depending on the medical findings, your doctor would refer you to a specialist, such as a neurologist, orthopedist, or endocrinologist.
Treatment for paresthesia
It is the most simple treatment for paresthesia. It is necessary to stop the behaviors that trigger the discomfort of the nerves to enable the healing of tissues. This can mean resting, or a brace or splint is often required to avoid the region going.
For example, in a person with carpal tunnel syndrome, a wrist brace may be used to immobilize the wrists. However, wearing a wrist brace for long amounts of time may cause certain problems. Hence, it is recommended to follow the doctor’s advice.
Physical exercise is very effective in developing strength in the muscles to protect the affected nerve. Stronger muscles can help ease compression of the tissue to prevent it from happening again. Fit muscles would also promote flexibility and greater mobility.
Medicines such as ibuprofen ( Advil, Motrin) and naproxen sodium ( Aleve), and even steroid shots into the infected region may be delivered to ease discomfort and alleviate swelling and inflammation.
Medications, including pregabalin (Lyrica) or duloxetine (Cymbalta) can be helpful for long-term paresthesia induced by fibromyalgia.
If the symptoms are not eased by these treatments, surgery may be required to reduce the pressure on a pinched nerve. Surgery may indicate the carpal ligament is replaced, a bone spur is extracted, or even part of a herniated disk in the neck.
The type of surgery may rely on the particular symptoms that a person encounters, as well as the cause.
Prevention of paresthesia
While parasthesia is not completely under our control, but there are still some measures you can take to minimize the risk of its occurrence. It is important to preserve the proper balance and alignment of the body so as to prevent undue nerve strain.
It’s also critical to avoid injuries that can result from heavy and incorrect lifting. By being aware of the position of the body, and frequently changing positions, a person can avoid compression of the nerves, which can lead to paresthesia.
Limiting repeated motions, or at least taking regular breaks when performing such tasks, can also avoid the occurrence of paresthesia.
Maintaining a healthy weight and indulging in regular exercise, including exercises on strength and flexibility, are good strategies for building strong and healthy muscles.