The condition of paresthesia is an abnormal condition that is characterized by sensations of burning, itching, numbness, prickling, or tingling.
Most of the time, individuals with this condition describe it as a sensation of “crawling skin” or “pins and needles.”
This condition typically occurs in the extremities such as hands and fingers or feet and toes- still, it can occur anywhere in the body.
This condition is not the same as the temporary tingling or numbness that clears up quickly after sitting with your legs crossed for an extended period of time or from sleeping with your arm in a bent position.
Nearly everyone has experienced this temporary feeling- but not many people have experienced the condition of paresthesia.
If you are experiencing this condition over a longer period of time it is known as chronic paresthesia or intermittent paresthesia- this could be a sign of some underlying traumatic nerve damage or neurological disorder.
In most cases, this particular condition is the result of some nerve damage caused by trauma, inflammation, abnormal processes, or infection.
The condition of paresthesia is very rarely the result of a life-threatening disorder, but it can be the result of tumors and strokes.
This condition is generally just a loss of sensation and is different from paralysis in that the condition of paralysis involves both the loss of sensations and the loss of movement.
Since it is possible that this condition could be an underlying symptom or sign of a particular condition, disease, or other disorder, make sure that you speak with your physician regarding any atypical sensations that last for longer than just a few minutes.
If you experience the symptoms and signs of paresthesia along with other symptoms and signs such as loss of bladder and/or bowel control, weakness in the extremities, slurred speech, paralysis, or confusion you should seek immediate medical help either by calling an ambulance or getting to the nearest emergency facility.
The sensations of paresthesia are often described in many different ways, from burning, itching, numbness, pins and needles, and tingling.
These sensations may also include pain and other symptoms. This is heavily dependent upon the part of the body that is affected.
Any additional signs and symptoms can help your physician to make a more accurate diagnosis.
Following are some of the other signs and symptoms that may occur with the condition of paresthesia:
- An increase in the condition while performing a task or walking
- Frequent urination
- Sensitivity to touch
- Muscle spasms
With the condition of paresthesia, there are some other signs and symptoms that could indicate that there is a more life-threatening condition present.
If you or someone that you know is experiencing these signs and symptoms, you should call for an ambulance or get to your nearest emergency room so that you can be evaluated by a medical professional.
- Difficulty walking
- Loss/changes in vision
- Loss of bladder/bowel control
- Difficulty breathing
- Confusion/loss of consciousness
- Slurred speech
- Paresthesia following a severe trauma of the back, neck, or head
Causes of Paresthesia
Typically, the condition of paresthesia comes from compression- or pressure/entrapment- of the nerves or nerve damage.
In addition, this condition can be indicative of many different disorders and diseases that can result in injury to the nerves.
A temporary form of this condition can result from any sort of activity that results in prolonged pressure on the nerves- such as bicycling for a long distance or sitting cross-legged for a long period of time.
In addition, this condition can result due to severe to moderate orthopedic conditions and diseases/disorders that cause damage to the nervous system.
In some cases, this condition can be a sign or symptom of a more serious or life-threatening condition- in which case, you should be evaluated as soon as possible by a medical professional.
The condition of paresthesia can be due to serious to moderate orthopedic conditions that cause injury or damage to the nerves, including the following:
- Injury to the back or neck
- Degenerative disk disease
- Nerve pressure/entrapment due to conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome
- Herniated disk
- Bone fractures
- Cast that is too tight
The condition of paresthesia can be caused by many other diseases/disorders that cause damage to the nerves, including the following:
- Brain tumor
- Heavy metal poisoning
- Diabetic neuropathy
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Multiple sclerosis
- Arteriovenous malformation
- Spinal cord tumor/injury
- Transverse myelitis
- Vitamin B12 deficiency
Questions for Accurate Diagnosis
In order to accurately diagnose your condition, your physician will ask you several questions that are related to the signs and symptoms you are experiencing.
Some of these questions include the following:
- Where are these sensations located?
- How long does the sensation last?
- When did the sensation begin?
- Is there anything in particular that triggers the sensations?
Since the condition of paresthesia can be the result of a particular disease or disorder of the nervous system or even damage to the nerves, not seeking proper treatment can lead to some serious complications and even permanent damage.
It is critical that you visit your health care professional any time you experience the signs and symptoms of this condition or anything else that is out of the ordinary.
Once the cause has been pinpointed, it is necessary that you carefully follow the treatment plan that has been given by your health care professional in order to reduce (or avoid) potential complications including the following:
- Chronic/Permanent pain
- Permanent sensation loss
- Inability to breathe independently
- Poor quality of life