We’ve all experienced that odd prickling sensation that is numbness/tingling of the body. Some call it “pins and needles.” Hands, feet, arms and legs are the most common culprits for these numb, tingly sensations, though they can occur in other places, as well.
The medical term for numbness and tingling is paresthesia. If you sit in one position for too long or you fall asleep on your arm, you’ll probably experience temporary paresthesia. However, there are other reasons for numbness and tingling that could be more serious.
Causes of numbness and tingling
- Multiple sclerosis
- Hardening of the arteries
- Underactive thyroid (ie. hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis)
- An insect or animal bite
- Toxins found in seafood
- Abnormal level of vitamin B-12, potassium, calcium, or sodium
- Radiation therapy
- Medications (ie. chemotherapy)
When to seek medical attention
In most cases, numbness and tingling are only temporary and not serious. However, there are some cases in which you should seek medical attention for numbness/tingling.
- If you’ve recently experienced back, neck or head injury
- Having the inability to walk or move
- Losing consciousness, even if only for a short time
- Feelings of confusion or trouble thinking clearly
- Slurred speech
- Vision problems
- Feelings of weakness or severe pain
- Losing control of your bowels or bladder
Talk to your doctor if you’re concerned by your paresthesia, as they will be able to figure out the best treatment option for you.