Paresthesia is a feeling of tingling, burning, pricking, or numbness of the skin with no apparent physical cause. Some people call it a feeling of "pins and needles."

Paresthesia that comes and goes (transient paresthesia) is usually caused by pressure on a nerve, and it disappears gradually as the pressure is relieved. Other kinds of paresthesia can be chronic and painful and are often a symptom of underlying nerve damage or disease.

Comparing the affected area with an unaffected area will determine whether paresthesia is present.

  • When the affected area is touched, does the touch cause the same feeling or sensation as when an unaffected area is touched?
  • Does loss of normal sensation spread beyond the affected area (usually away from the center of the body down a limb)?

Treatment for paresthesia depends on what is causing the problem.

Current as of: February 20, 2015

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine