Paresthesia is the strange sensation of burning, prickling, tingling and numbness one experiences when a limb such as an arm, leg or foot “falls asleep.” It can be transient (meaning it is brief or short-lived), or it can be a chronic condition that persists for a long period of time.
Paresthesia is a condition that generally affects the limbs (arms, legs, hands and feet). Most people describe the sensation as a “pins and needles” feeling or the feeling of a limb “falling asleep.” The paretic sensation usually beings as a dull, heavy feeling followed by a tingly, prickly, numb, burning feeling. Some people experience slight pain, while others say the sensation is painless.
Most cases of paresthesia are caused by nerves that have been compressed for too long. Crossing your legs or sitting on your foot for an extended period of time are examples of things can compress the nerves, which act as wires that carry messages back and forth between your body and your brain. When the nerves are pinched, communication between your body and your brain can be temporarily suspended, creating the numb feeling.
In some cases, paresthesia can be caused by compressed arteries. If an artery is pinched for a prolonged period, it is unable to supply your nerve cells and tissues with blood they need.
Chronic paresthesia can be caused by medical conditions and disorders like diabetes, neuron function problems, hyperventilation syndrome, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), panic attacks, poor circulation, and prior strokes.
Transient cases of paresthesia will resolve on their own, usually within a few seconds. The sensation is generally harmless and nothing to worry about.
Chronic cases of paresthesia are usually caused by an underlying health condition, which should be evaluated and treated by a doctor to reduce paresthesia reoccurrence.