health May 18, 2021
street coffee time in Santiago de Compostela
Photo by elCarito / Unsplash

Nerve damage (neuropathy) causes an abnormal sensation of the body, such as tingling, pricking, chilling, or burning. Continued nerve damage can lead to numbness (loss of sensation) or paralysis (loss of movement and sensation). Such an abnormal sensation of the body is called Paresthesia.

Paresthesia can be described as a pins-and-needles or skin-crawling sensation. Such familiar feelings of pins and needles occur due to putting sustained pressure accidentally on a nerve or poor circulation for a short period. By changing the position, the pressure from the affected nerve will be removed and thus the feeling can be resolved. Pressure-induced paresthesia occurs due to the awkward posture, such as engaging in cross-legged sitting for long periods.
Almost everyone has experienced paresthesia at some time in their lives, when they sit with legs crossed for longer periods, or fallen asleep with an arm crooked under their head.

Paresthesia usually occurs in the extremities, such as the hands, feet, fingers, and toes, but it can also occur in other parts of the body such as the mouth or chest.

The sensation of paresthesia can be short-term or temporary and disappear quickly, when it occurs due to hyperventilation, an anxiety attack or from lying on the arm while asleep.

Such type of temporary paresthesia can be rectified without treatment. If these symptoms last for a long time, it is called chronic paresthesia and an underlying neurological disease or traumatic nerve damage often displays a symptom of chronic paresthesia. Chronic paresthesia may be due to nerve damage and it causes a stabbing pain. When it occurs in legs and feet, it can make it difficult to walk.

Clinical features

Paresthesia can be caused by disorders affecting the central nervous system and peripheral nervous system.  A tumor in the spinal cord or brain also causes paresthesia when it is pressed against the brain or spinal cord.

Stroke and transient ischemic attacks (mini-strokes), multiple sclerosis, transverse myelitis, and encephalitis affect the central nervous system and cause paresthesia.

Nerve entrapment syndromes, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, can damage peripheral nerves and cause paresthesia accompanied by pain.

Other causes for Paresthesia may be neuropathy, neurological disorders, menopause, alcoholism, malnutrition, dehydration, hypoglycemia, nerve irritation, Hyperventilation, Immune deficiency, high blood pressure, compressed or pinched nerve, high levels of Vitamin D, inadequate blood supply to the affected region, pressure on the spinal nerves  such as  herniated disk and tumors, carpal tunnel syndrome or other repetitive stress injuries, stroke or brain attack, various long-term medical conditions such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, migraines, atherosclerosis, autoimmune disorders, hypothyroidism, toxic action on nerves   such as that from lead, mercury or arsenic, and infections and post-infection syndromes.

If paresthesia occurs suddenly and is accompanied by slurred speech, facial drooping, or weakness, immediate medical care is required.

If the symptoms last for a long time, or are linked to weakness, it will be better to take the advice of a doctor.


The symptoms may be constant or intermittent. Usually, these sensations occur in the affected area but may spread to other parts also.

The symptoms of paresthesia may be numbness or poor feeling in the affected area, weakness, tingling, aching or burning pain, prickling or itching feeling, crawling sensation on the skin, feeling that the affected area has “fallen asleep”, hot or cold skin, an electric shock feeling, heaviness and no feeling in the affected area.

People who are at risk for paresthesia are,

People who have jobs or hobbies that require repetitive movement of the hands, elbows or feet are at a higher risk for paresthesia or nerve damage.
People who are obese, their extra weight can put pressure on nerves and causes Paresthesia. Nerve and tissue damage caused in diabetes may also lead to Paresthesia.
Rheumatoid arthritis causes inflammation, which can also compress nerves in the joints.
Weight and water gain associated with pregnancy can cause swelling and pressure on nerves.
The risk for paresthesia can be increased due to the nerve compression that results from lying down for longer periods

Personal precautions

Certain precautions for preventing paresthesia are

❖     Avoiding or limiting repetitive movements if possible by taking frequent breaks to prevent paresthesia that is caused by overuse.

❖     Taking rest often if repetitive movements are needed to perform.

❖     Avoiding sitting for long periods , by getting up and moving around as often as possible

❖     Careful monitoring and disease management of diabetes or any other chronic disease to lower the chances of paresthesia attack.

❖     Maintaining good posture and body positioning to avoid unnecessary pressure on the nerves.

❖     Avoiding injuries that can occur from heavy and incorrect lifting

❖     Changing positions frequently to avoid nerve compression, which may lead to paresthesis.

❖     Maintaining a healthy weight

❖     Doing regular exercise, including strength and flexibility exercises like shoulder rotation, neck raises, bends and ankle toe movements to enhance blood circulation and to build up strong and healthy muscles.

❖     Simple yoga asanas like neck and back stretches, pelvic tilts can restore the blood circulation and prevent tingling sensation.

❖     Taking a healthy and well-balanced diet loaded with essential vitamins and minerals for the normal functioning of the body.

Natural remedies

Photo by Katherine Hanlon / Unsplash

A few lifestyle adjustments and certain natural remedies may solve the problem.

★     Acupuncture and massage

★     Self-massage with aromatic oils

★     Regularly massaging with essential oils like Lavender or cypress oil to repair nerve damage and to restore the functioning of the nerves.

★     Anti-inflammatory effects and the vital nutrients of apple cider vinegar helps increase energy and restore and repair damaged nerves.

★     Application of topical ointments that contain, capsaicin, the substance present in hot peppers

★     Wearing clothes and shoes that are loose-fitting.

★     Warming up feet, to get relief from the feeling of a burning or tingling sensation that occurs during night due to cold or cooling them down if they’re hot, as temperature extremes can cause abnormal sensations.

★     Giving warm compress helps in treating the tingling sensation by  increasing blood circulation and improving the functioning of the nerves

★     Magnesium of Epsom Salt helps to lower the inflammation in the body by restoring affected and inflamed nerves causing the tingling sensation.

★     Avoiding the consumption of alcohol.


A. Sandhya

M.Sc Zoology

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