Paraesthesias

Paraesthesia is a burning or prickling feeling that's sometimes felt in the hands, arms, legs or feet. It can also occur in other parts of the body. It can also feel like tingling or numbness, skin crawling, or itching. The feeling is not comfortable, but it's not painful. (The "pins and needles" feeling that happens when a foot or hand "falls asleep" is a temporary paraesthesia.)

Paraesthesias that last or come and go may be caused by medical issues that need to be treated. These include stroke, a bulging disk pressing on a nerve, a trapped nerve, vitamin deficiencies, uncontrolled diabetes, alcohol abuse, or even certain medicines.

Tests are often done. These tests may include blood tests, X-ray, CT scan, nerve conduction studies (NCS), or a muscle test (electromyography). Depending on the cause, treatment may include physical therapy.

Home care

  • Tell your healthcare provider about all medicines you take. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbs. Ask if any of the medicines may be causing your problems. Don't make any changes to prescription medicines without talking to your healthcare provider first.

  • You may be prescribed medicines to help relieve the tingling feeling or for pain. Take all medicines as directed.

  • A numb hand or foot may be more prone to injury. To help protect it:

    • Always use oven mitts.

    • Test water with an unaffected hand or foot.

    • Use caution when trimming nails. File sharp areas.

    • Wear shoes that fit well to avoid pressure points, blisters, and ulcers.

    • Inspect your hands and feet carefully (including the soles of your feet and between your toes) daily. If you see red areas, sores, or other problems, tell your healthcare provider.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised. You may need more testing or evaluation.

When to get medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Numbness or weakness of the face, one arm, or 1 leg

  • Slurred speech, confusion, trouble speaking, walking, or seeing

  • Severe headache, fainting spell, dizziness, or seizure

  • Chest, arm, neck, or upper back pain

  • Loss of bladder or bowel control

  • Open wound with redness, swelling, or pus

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