What Is Paresthesia?

Has your foot ever fallen asleep? That tingling, pins and needles feeling you get when you sit in the same position for too long could be paresthesia. If you’re unfamiliar, this condition refers to a tingling or prickling sensation in the body that can be caused by varying conditions. It typically doesn’t last very long and is painless but can be uncomfortable.

While temporary paresthesia may not have an underlying cause, chronic paresthesia can be caused by an underlying condition such as peripheral neuropathy. Let’s get into what paresthesia is and how to treat it.

Have you been diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy? We can help.

Someone touching a mans hand that has gone numb while holding a ball for a prolonger period of time. Hand numbness, tingling and paresthesia concept

What is paresthesia?

First, paresthesia is defined as a burning or tingling sensation in the hands, arms, legs or feet. There are two different types of paresthesia: temporary and chronic. Both cause numbness and tingling in the extremities and other parts of the body.

  • Temporary

Temporary paresthesia is what people commonly refer to as one of your limbs falling asleep. It can happen if you sit for too long or lean on your arm. Once you switch positions, the pins and needles feeling will usually go away quickly. Temporary paresthesia typically doesn’t have an underlying cause and can happen to anyone.

  • Chronic

If you’re experiencing the sensation of pins and needles on a regular basis, it may be chronic paresthesia. This is typically due to an underlying cause such as nerve damage or a neurological condition.

Causes of paresthesia

When you experience temporary paresthesia, there shouldn’t be cause for concern. If it begins to happen frequently to the point where it’s interrupting your day, it’s time to call the doctor. There are several potential causes of chronic paresthesia, including:

  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Encephalitis
  • Ischemic attacks
  • Tumors
  • Transverse myelitis
  • Nerve damage

Paresthesia and nerve damage

One of the main causes of paresthesia is nerve damage. There are two common types of nerve damage associated with paresthesia:

  • Radiculopathy. Radiculopathy is the scientific term for what’s usually known as a pinched nerve. It can occur due to degeneration, a herniated disc or another traumatic injury in the body. When it affects your lower back, it’s referred to as lumbar radiculopathy.
  • Peripheral neuropathy. Another reason you may be experiencing paresthesia is peripheral neuropathy. This condition occurs when there is degeneration of peripheral sensory nerves due to an underlying condition. Tingling and numbness in the limbs due to paresthesia are common symptoms of peripheral neuropathy

Paresthesia diagnosis

It’s important to tell your doctor right away if you’re experiencing chronic paresthesia. Be sure to tell your physician about any activities you’re involved in that require repetitive movements. After they look at your medical history, your provider will run a series of tests that may include:

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Electromyography (EMG)
  • Ultrasounds
  • Nerve conduction study

Treatment for paresthesia

There is no direct treatment for paresthesia since there are so many underlying causes. Treatment will depend on the main cause, and your doctor will create a treatment plan to treat the condition that should also treat paresthesia.

  • Rest

Sometimes all a pinched nerve will need is time to rest, especially if the paresthesia is caused by repetitive use. This gives the tissue time to heal and hopefully resolve the issue.

  • Physical therapy

Physical therapy will help you strengthen the muscles that surround the affected area. Stronger muscles can help relieve pressure on the nerves and tissue that are causing paresthesia.

  • Medication

Ibuprofen and naproxen sodium can help to decrease inflammation. Your doctor may also prescribe steroid injections for swelling and inflammation.

  • Surgical intervention

A surgical procedure can reduce pressure on a pinched nerve to help with paresthesia.

Preventing paresthesia

Sometimes paresthesia is unavoidable, especially if it’s caused by an underlying condition such as peripheral neuropathy. You can, however, minimize your risk by:

  • Reducing repetitive motion or taking frequent breaks
  • Maintaining good posture
  • Being mindful of your position when lifting something heavy
  • Maintaining a healthy diet
  • Exercising regularly


Temporary paresthesia is very common. If you’re experiencing it regularly, contact your physician to ensure it’s not due to an underlying condition such as peripheral neuropathy.

WinSanTor is a clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on the discovery and development of treatments for peripheral neuropathies. We believe in creating a solution that works and brings relief to millions that are struggling with this disease. Learn more about our companyour drug and subscribe to our newsletter.


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Have you been diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy? We can help.