What Is Paresthesia?
Paresthesia describes abnormal burning or prickling sensations that are usually felt in the arms, hands, legs, or feet, but may also occur in other parts of the body. The sensation is usually painless and may be described as tingling, numbness, skin crawling, or itching.
Temporary paresthesia is common and often described as “pins and needles,” such as when a person falls asleep on an arm or sits too long with legs crossed. Chronic paresthesia can be a symptom of an underlying neurological disease or traumatic nerve damage.
What Causes Paresthesia?
Temporary paresthesia is common and may be referred to as "pins and needles." This is caused by pressure placed on a nerve, such as when a person falls asleep on their arm or sits too long with legs crossed. When the pressure is relieved, the sensation goes away.
Certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies may also cause paresthesia.
- Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) deficiency
- Vitamin B12 (pantothenic acid) deficiency, which can lead to anemia, a cause of paresthesia
- Vitamin E deficiency
- Calcium deficiency (hypocalcemia)
- Magnesium deficiency (hypomagnesemia)
Chronic paresthesia can be a symptom of an underlying neurological disease or traumatic nerve damage such as:
- Central nervous system disorders
- Stroke and transient ischemic attacks (mini-strokes)
- Multiple sclerosis
- Transverse myelitis
- Tumors or vascular lesions pressed up against the brain or spinal cord
- Nerve entrapment syndromes, such as carpal tunnel syndrome
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