The paresthesia definition includes symptoms of tingling and numbness.
What is Paresthesia Definition?
The definition of paresthesia refers to the sensation of prickling or burning in the limbs, but it can also affect other body parts. The feeling “happens without warning” and is often described as “tingling or numbness, skin crawling, or itching”. The “pins and needles” feeling is a common one felt by people who have had their legs or arms fall asleep, which is due to certain body positions that create nerve pressure. Once the pressure is alleviated, the sensation disappears. Some people, however, have chronic paresthesias, and those symptoms are a result of “an underlying neurological disease or traumatic nerve damage” that impacts the nervous system. The typical causes of chronic paresthesia are “stroke and transient ischemic attacks (mini-strokes), multiple sclerosis, transverse myelitis, and encephalitis” as well as vascular lesions or tumors that press on the spinal cord or brain. In less severe situations, nerve entrapment syndromes can cause paresthesia and pain, due to the damage caused to peripheral nerves. Carpal tunnel syndrome is an example of the latter.1 One uncommon sensation, that meets the definition of paresthesia, is “formication, the sensation of bugs crawling underneath the skin”. As noted before, paresthesias can be transient or chronic. For the patients with chronic paresthesia, poor circulation can be the culprit. Patients with peripheral vascular disease and atherosclerosis are at risk. The paresthesia definition of symptoms can apply to patients with malnutrition, vitamin deficiency, mercury poisoning, and metabolic disorders, such as hypothyroidism, hypoparathyroidism, and diabetes. In addition, nerve damage also triggers paresthesias, such as neuropathy, frostbite, and Lyme disease. Chemotherapy and benzodiazepine withdrawal can also cause the symptoms, as can autoimmune diseases such as lupus or MS. For those with the transient paresthesia, cold sores, panic attacks or “a tweaked…nerve” can cause symptoms. There are also several other conditions that might lead to paresthesias, such as mood disorders, dehydration, Guillain-Barre syndrome, immunodeficiency, migraines, rabies, shingles, scorpion stings, and many others.2
Medical Treatments of Paresthesia
Doctors try to find the source and severity of the paresthesia before recommending treatment. A nerve conduction study may be ordered, and a CT scan can “rule out some causes form the central nervous system”, for example. Some patients may need palliative care, such as topical creams, while others will be prescribed medications.3 Treatment will also depend on the types of symptoms. Patients could experience itching, tingling, dysarthria, numbness, footdrop, ocular dysmetria, muscular atrophy, crawling sensations, limbs “falling asleep”, or restless legs syndrome. It is important to accurately diagnose the cause so that the underlying condition can be managed. For patients with diabetes or chemotherapy complications, treatment could be used to provide symptom relief, such as anti-inflammatory medications. For difficult paresthesias, a doctor might prescribe a low dose of amitriptyline, an antidepressant medication, to help with pain perception. In severe cases of paresthesia, a patient might be prescribed “opium derivatives such as codeine”.4 Some researchers are looking into “human nerve growth factor” as a treatment option for the possibility of “helping heal nerve degradation and (to) restore damaged nerves”.5
Alternative Treatment Options
Patients concerned about the side effects of certain medications may opt for alternative treatments, such as nutritional therapy. This therapy might include B complex vitamins, such as B12. It should be noted, though, that B6 should be given with caution as an overdose of this vitamin can cause paresthesias. Patients with paresthesia should avoid alcohol. Other treatment options include massage and acupuncture. Even self-massage, with essential oils, can be useful. Capsaicin may also provide relief, in the form of topical ointments. Capsaicin contains “the substance that makes hot peppers hot”. Patients might also wish to wear loose-fitting shoes and clothes.6 While seeking an experienced acupuncturist or massage therapist may be preferred, some patients could find relief in the short term with self-massage by using oils such lavender, chamomile, peppermint, sandalwood, and marjoram.7 There are various chiropractic treatment options for paresthesias, including chiropractic adjustments, vibration therapy, concentrated oxygen, electrical muscle stimulation, and thermal modalities. With chiropractic care, the goal is to treat the underlying condition and to help the neuropathy heal on its own. Additionally, patients need to get other medical conditions under control, such as controlling blood sugar with diabetes and eating a healthy diet with “fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein”. Strict vegetarians should consider B-12 supplements. Regular exercise may also be useful, and patients who smoke should quit.8 In a case study, a patient had idiopathic, intermittent hemiparesthesia and received chiropractic treatments of cold laser therapy, vibration therapy, and manipulation. The 24-year-old woman had reported positive outcomes from the treatments.9 NUCCA chiropractors also treat paresthesia with a procedure that is said to realign the spine gently “to a balanced, unstressed position, immediately relieving pressure from the spinal nerves”. These chiropractors work to resolve the misalignment, which is believed to be the underlying cause of the problems.10
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