What is paresthesia?
Paresthesia (paraesthesia) is a sensation of tingling, pricking, or numbness of the skin with no apparent physical cause, more generally known as the feeling of pins and needles. Transient paresthesia is usually caused by inadvertent pressure on a superficial nerve, and disappears gradually as the pressure is relieved. Other kinds of paresthesia, however, can be chronic and painful, and can come from a wide variety of sources. The feeling of having a foot "fall asleep" is a familiar one. This same combination of numbness and tingling can occur in any region of the body and may be caused by a wide variety of disorders. Sensations such as these, which occur without any associated stimulus, are called paresthesias. Other types of paresthesias include feelings of cold, warmth, burning, itching, and skin crawling. Paresthesia occurs when an area of the body loses its normal sensation to touch. Paresthesia may feel like a burning, pricking, tickling, or tingling sensation. Comparing the affected area with an unaffected area will determine whether paresthesia is present.