Paresthesia is a burning, prickling, itching, or tingling "pins and needles" skin sensation that
often happens without warning. It occurs mostly in the hands, arms, legs, and feet
but can also affect other body parts.
More to Know
Anyone who has had a foot "fall asleep" has experienced temporary paresthesia.
Pressure placed on the foot for too long compresses the nerves and keeps them from
sending messages back to the brain
normally. Because the connection is cut off, you don't feel anything (numbness). When
the pressure lets up, the feeling comes back slowly, often with pain or a tingling
Chronic (or long-lasting) paresthesia can be a symptom of various medical conditions
involving the nervous system (brain, spinal cord, and nerves). Some examples include
multiple sclerosis, stroke,
encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), tumors on the brain or spinal cord, and
carpal tunnel syndrome. Certain medications and anxiety
disorders can also cause paresthesia.
Keep in Mind
Paresthesia can be a short-term nuisance or an aggravating symptom of a serious
medical condition. If you or a family member experiences persistent paresthesia, see
a doctor for evaluation.
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