Paresthesia (tingling)

tingling or pAresthesia is a stabbing sensationneedle or numb on certain body parts. paresthesia can occur in any part of the body, but most often occur in hand, foot, and head.

Paresthesias can be temporary or prolonged. Temporary paresthesias occur due to pressure on certain nerves, for example when sleeping with your arms on top or sitting cross-legged. This temporary tingling will go away when there is no pressure on the nerves. Sometimes, tingling or paresthesias can also appear after exercise.

Meanwhile, prolonged paresthesias can be a symptom of a disease, such as diabetes. An examination to the doctor needs to be done if paresthesias occur repeatedly and continuously for no apparent reason.

Symptoms of paresthesias (tingling)

Tingling or paresthesias can occur anywhere on the body, but is often felt in the hands, feet, and head. When experiencing paresthesias, the affected area will feel:

  • Numb
  • Weak
  • Like being stabbed by a needle
  • Like burning or cold

These complaints can be temporary or prolonged. If prolonged, the tingling body part can become stiff, or if it occurs in the legs, it can make it difficult for the sufferer to walk.

Characteristics of symptoms or the appearance of other symptoms that accompany the tingling will vary according to the cause. For example, in paresthesias caused by complications of diabetes (diabetic neuropathy), tingling can radiate up from the soles of the feet to the legs or from the hands to the arms.

When to go to the doctor

The occasional tingling is nothing to worry about. However, consult a neurologist if you experience prolonged or repeated tingling, as this could be a sign of an illness.

An examination by a doctor also needs to be done as soon as possible if the tingling occurs in the head, gets worse, is accompanied by pain, and causes problems when walking or is weak in the tingling area.

Complications of diabetes on the nerves is one of the causes of tingling. If you have diabetes, make regular checkups with your doctor to monitor the progress of the disease.

Causes of paresthesias (tingling)

The cause of paresthesias is not always certain. Tingling that occurs temporarily caused by pressure on the nerves or obstruction of blood circulation.

This condition can occur when bending your legs for too long, for example when sitting cross-legged, or when sleeping with your arms crushed. Tingling can also occur in people whose activities involve repetitive movements, such as violinists or tennis athletes.

While tingling that occurs for a long time can be a sign of a disease, such as:

  • Vitamin B12 deficiency.
  • Infectious diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, herpes zoster, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and Lyme disease.
  • Immune system diseases, such as lupus, Sjögren's syndrome, Guillain-Barré syndrome, celiac disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Side effects of chemotherapy drugs, anti-seizure drugs, and drugs for HIV/AIDS.

In some cases, tingling can occur only in the hands and feet or only in the head, as will be explained below:

Paresthesias in hands and feet

Paresthesias in the hands and feet are most often caused by diabetic neuropathy, which is nerve damage caused by diabetes. Other conditions that can trigger tingling in the hands and feet include:

  • Pregnancy.
  • Kidney failure.
  • Ganglion cyst.
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Pinched nerve (hernia nucleus pulposus).
  • Thyroid hormone deficiency (hypothyroidism).
  • Exposure to chemicals, such as arsenic or mercury.

Paresthesias in the head

Paresthesias in the head are often nothing to worry about. But in some cases, paresthesias in the head can be a sign of the following conditions:

  • Sinusitis
  • Stress
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Electrolyte disturbance
  • Migraine
  • Head injury
  • Hypertension
  • Consumption of alcoholic beverages
  • Drug abuse
  • Epilepsy
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Brain tumor

Diagnosis of paresthesias (tingling)

To detect the cause of prolonged tingling, the doctor will ask about the patient's symptoms and activities. The doctor will also ask about the patient's medical history and current medication. Then, the doctor will perform a physical examination, especially a neurological examination.

To find the cause, the doctor can run the following examinations:

  • Blood tests, to check the levels of electrolytes, vitamins, hormones, and chemicals in the blood.
  • Nerve function tests, including muscle electrical activity tests (electromyography) and nerve conduction velocity tests (electromyography)nerve velocity test).
  • Imaging, such as X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs.
  • Lumbar puncture examination (spinal tap), which is done by taking a sample of spinal cord fluid
  • A biopsy, which is done by taking a sample of skin or nerve tissue for examination in a laboratory.

Paresthesia (Tingling) Treatment

Treatment of paresthesias depends on the cause. If the patient's paresthesia is a symptom of a disease, the doctor will treat the disease, for example by:

  • Controlling blood sugar levels, if the cause is diabetes
  • Give vitamin B12 supplements, if the cause is vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Lowering blood pressure, if the cause is hypertension.

In addition to the steps above, the doctor will prescribe medication to relieve symptoms, such as pregabalin or gabapentin to relieve symptoms of diabetic neuropathy. Doctors can also change or stop medications that trigger paresthesias. Surgery may be performed on certain conditions, such as a pinched nerve or a ganglion cyst.

Prevention of paresthesias (tingling)

Numbness can't always be prevented, but the frequency of its occurrence can be reduced by taking the following steps:

  • Avoid doing repetitive movements that can put pressure on the nerves.
  • Take regular breaks if you frequently perform repetitive movements.
  • Get up or walk first for a while after sitting for a long time.

If you suffer from a disease that causes paresthesias, such as diabetes, monitor your condition regularly to see a doctor to reduce the risk of developing paresthesias.