Paresthesia can be a difficult medical condition to deal with. If you have this condition, you may experience numbness, itching, tingling, prickling or burning sensations. These feelings are often felt in the feet, fingers, toes and hands. Depending on your medical condition, paresthesia may be caused by neurological or orthopedic conditions.

How Paresthesia Works

Paresthesia is not a particularly common condition, but it can happen for some individuals. Without any warning, you may suddenly experience a tingling or burning sensation in your hands or feet. This does not typically occur with any pain, and it can be difficult to treat.

What Are Some of the Symptoms Associated With Paresthesia?

This medical condition is experienced by different people in a variety of different ways. Most people describe paresthesia as a sensation that feels like numbness, tingling, burning or itching. If it affects other parts of the body, it may also feel painful. On occasion, people with paresthesia may be sensitive to touch or they may feel the need to urinate frequently. Other individuals may experience muscle spasms, anxiety or rashes. In some cases, paresthesia may make it difficult to do normal daily tasks like walking. When you visit your doctor for an appoint about paresthesia, you should make sure to tell them all of the symptoms that you are experiencing so that they can make an accurate diagnosis.

Temporary Paresthesia

While some people may experience paresthesia over the long term, they may also experience just temporary paresthesia. Many individuals have experienced the feeling of “pins and needles” in their hands or feet. This often occurs if you sit or sleep with your legs or arms crossed in an awkward position. When this happens, your body is pressing down on nerves that cause the tingling situation. If you change position, the feeling will normally resolve on its own.

Chronic, Long-Term Paresthesia

Although most cases of paresthesia resolve on their own, some people may experience chronic paresthesia. This is often caused by a disorder in the central nervous system. People who have had a stroke, a spinal chord injury, a brain tumor or multiple sclerosis are more likely to develop chronic paresthesia. If you also feel pain, this may be due to the nerves becoming trapped due to an injury or carpal tunnel syndrome. In order to treat your chronic condition, you have to find out what the root cause is. Your doctor may take your medical history, conduct lab tests, do a physical exam or take a diagnostic evaluation to figure out what is actually causing your paresthesia to occur.


When left untreated, paresthesia can cause long-term damage. This is generally due to the underlying medical condition that is causing your tingling or burning sensations. If you experience any symptoms of paresthesia, you will want to get a medical evaluation done by your doctor. Potential complications that may occur include breathing problems, disability, paralysis and chronic pain.

You should always discuss any worries or concerns with your doctor. Paresthesia may be an initial symptom of a life threatening condition, so you need to get help right away. You should visit the emergency room if your symptoms are accompanied by a loss of strength, loss of consciousness, problems controlling your bladder, issues with walking, dizziness, confusion and slurred speech. You should call 911 immediately if paresthesia occurs after you or the individual experiencing it have had a head, neck or back injury.

What Are Some of the Causes of Paresthesia?

The most common reason why someone develops paresthesia is due to compressed nerves or nerve damage. This may be due to an injury, or it can be caused by another medical condition. Any time you do any activity that causes prolonged pressure on certain nerves, it can result in paresthesia. Orthopedic causes like damage to the nerves may cause paresthesia. This may include degenerative disk damage, osteoporosis, herniated disk, bone fractures, neck and back injuries and carpal tunnel syndrome. Even having a cast on too tight can result in a tingling sensation.

In addition to orthopedic causes, you may develop paresthesia due to neurological causes. This may be due to a condition like transverse myelitis, a vitamin B12 deficiency or diabetic neuropathy. Other neurological conditions that can cause paresthesia include mini-strokes, alcoholism, encephalitis, strokes, multiple sclerosis and brain tumors.

Treatments for Paresthesia

If you have temporary paresthesia from sitting or lying down the wrong way, you can easily fix it by just moving or massaging the muscles to restore circulation. When paresthesia is caused by a chronic disease, you must treat the underlying condition to get the symptoms to go away. Mild paresthesia may be treated by a pain killer like ibuprofen. For serious cases, a doctor may prescribe an antidepressant to help modify your pain response. You should always ask your doctor with help treating your paresthesia because they will be able to prescribe a treatment for the underlying cause and make sure that it is not due to a more serious illness.