NINDS Paresthesia Information Page: NINDS
Article title: NINDS Paresthesia Information Page: NINDS
Main condition: Paresthesia
What is Paresthesia?
a term that refers to an abnormal burning or prickling sensation which is
generally felt in the hands, arms, legs, or feet, but may occur in any
part of the body. The sensation, which arises spontaneously without
apparent stimulus and is usually not painful, may also be described as
tingling or numbness, skin crawling, buzzing, or itching. Most people have
experienced transient (temporary) paresthesia at some time in their lives;
it occurs whenever inadvertent pressure is placed on a nerve and causes
what many describe as a "pins and needles" feeling. The feeling quickly
goes away once the pressure is relieved. For some people, however,
paresthesia can become a chronic condition caused by an underlying
It more frequently occurs as a symptom of more widespread
neurological disease or traumatic nerve damage. Paresthesia can be caused
by disorders affecting the central nervous system, such as stroke,
transient ischemic attack, multiple sclerosis, transverse myelitis, and
encephalitis. A tumor or vascular lesion such as an arteriovenous
malformation pressed up against the brain or spinal cord can also cause
paresthesia. A wide range of conditions including diabetes,
hypothyroidism, vitamin B12 deficiencies, alcoholism, heavy metal
poisoning (lead, arsenic, and other metals), and nerve entrapment
syndromes, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, can also damage peripheral
nerves (peripheral neuropathy) and cause paresthesia. Connective tissue
disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis or systemic lupus erythematosus
also can cause peripheral neuropathy and lead to paresthesia. Paresthesia
caused by peripheral neuropathy may be accompanied by pain.
evaluation is largely based on determining the underlying condition
causing the paresthetic sensations. An individual's medical history,
physical examination, and laboratory tests are essential for the
diagnosis. Physicians may order additional tests depending on the
suspected cause of the paresthesia.
Is there any
The appropriate treatment for paresthesia depends on
accurate diagnosis of the underlying cause.
What is the prognosis?
prognosis for those with paresthesia depends on the severity of the
sensations and the associated disorder(s).
What research is being
The NINDS supports research on disorders of the brain, spinal
cord, and peripheral nerves that can cause paresthesia. The goals of this
research are to increase scientific understanding of these disorders and
to find ways to prevent, treat, and cure them.
This fact sheet is in the public domain. You may copy it.Provided
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
National Institutes of Health