Pins and Needles (Paraesthesia)

What is Paresthesia?

Paraesthesia, commonly known as "pins and needles," is a sensation you're likely familiar with – it feels like your skin is tingling, burning, and numb.


This sensation occurs when blood flow to the nerves is temporarily disrupted, often caused by prolonged pressure on a specific part of the body, such as when your arm falls asleep. Once the pressure is relieved, the nerve irritation subsides as blood returns to the affected area.


In most instances, paraesthesia lasts only a few minutes and generally does not indicate any underlying issue. However, there are cases of chronic paraesthesia, which may be linked to problems with the central nervous system or nerve damage.


If you experience persistent episodes of pins and needles, it's advisable to consult a doctor for evaluation and guidance.

What are the Symptoms of Paresthesia?

Paresthesia can manifest through various symptoms, including:


  • A sensation of skin-crawling

  • Prickling feeling

  • Burning sensation

  • Tingling

  • Numbness

  • Weakness

  • Skin feeling excessively hot or cold


If you only occasionally experience these sensations, and they subside shortly after relieving pressure on the affected body part, it's typically not a cause for concern. However, if you frequently encounter these sensations, if they persist or significantly impact your daily life, it is advisable to consult a doctor for further evaluation and rule out any underlying medical conditions.

How is Paresthesia Diagnosed?

If you frequently or constantly experience Paresthesia, especially when there's no apparent cause, it's essential to consult a doctor.


During your appointment, the doctor will inquire about the nature of your paresthesia symptoms, their duration, and any potential triggers. They will also review your medical history to explore possible underlying factors, such as existing medical conditions like diabetes or nerve damage, and any recent medication changes.


Depending on your case, further investigations may be necessary. These could involve a physical examination, blood tests, and imaging studies like scans or X-rays. Additionally, depending on the findings, you may be referred to a specialist to pinpoint the root cause of your symptoms.

What are the Causes of Paresthesia?

Paresthesia can result from various factors. While it can occur temporarily from simple situations like sitting with crossed legs for an extended period, which restricts blood flow and usually resolves on its own, chronic Paresthesia may have underlying causes. These include:


Neuropathy: This condition involves permanent nerve damage, often caused by persistently high blood sugar levels, as seen in diabetes, but can also result from illnesses or injuries.


Radiculopathy (Pinched Nerve): This occurs when a nerve gets compressed, inflamed, or irritated, leading to tingling sensations.


Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Pressure on peripheral nerves in the wrist can cause numbness, tingling, or weakness in the hands.


Raynaud's Disease: Primarily affecting fingers and toes, this condition disrupts proper blood circulation, resulting in pins and needles and colour changes in the extremities.


Fibromyalgia: Chronic pain is a hallmark of this condition, often accompanied by Paresthesia.


Diabetes: Poor blood sugar control can cause pins and needles sensations, mainly when blood sugar levels are too high or low, potentially leading to neuropathy.


Multiple Sclerosis: This neurological condition can produce paresthesia sensations in various body parts.


Sciatica: Pins and needles or numbness travelling down the leg and foot from the back may indicate sciatica.


Anxiety: Rapid breathing during anxiety can lead to tingling sensations commonly felt in the fingers and lips.


Stroke: Weakness, numbness, or pins and needles on one side of the body or in one arm can be a sign of a stroke, requiring immediate medical attention.


Herniated Disc: Damage to the discs between vertebrae can irritate or compress nerves, resulting in numbness or paresthesia symptoms.


Paresthesia can also be a side effect of specific medications or treatments or be associated with poor dietary choices or excessive alcohol consumption. This list is not exhaustive, and if you experience frequent or persistent pins and needles, it's advisable to consult a healthcare professional for further evaluation.

What is the Treatment for Paresthesia?

The treatment for Paresthesia varies depending on the underlying cause of the symptoms. Your doctor or specialist must first diagnose the root cause to determine the appropriate course of action if necessary.

How Mobi Doctor can assist

How Mobi Doctor can assist:

Our doctors are available online seven days a week throughout the year. They can assess your paresthesia symptoms and guide your following actions.