So you’re sitting at your desk, and suddenly your legs fall asleep. You try to shake it off, but that annoying numbness and tingling sensation just doesn’t want to leave without a fight. Paresthesia, a neuropathic ailment often associated with vitamin B12 deficiency, causes “pins and needles,” numbness, and painful burning in your hands, arms, feet, and legs.
What are the symptoms of paresthesia?
Paresthesia causes numbness and tingling sensations, primarily in your hands, arms, feet, and legs. People who experience paresthesia say they feel like their legs or arms are “falling asleep.” Others describe it as a burning pain in one or more limbs, “pins and needles,” or severe itching.
Is paresthesia serious?
Sometimes, paresthesia happens as a response to hyperventilating, anxiety, or just putting too much pressure on one nerve for too long.
Other times, paresthesia occurs as part of a chronic condition, and the only way to put an end to the constant numbness and prickling sensations is to find out what is causing your symptoms, and the best way to treat it.
What causes your arms or legs to “fall asleep?”
Many chronic conditions, illnesses, or drug interactions can cause neuropathic pain symptoms such as paresthesia.
Vitamin B12 deficiency: Numbness and tingling in the hands and feet are usually the first symptoms noticed by sufferers of vitamin B12 deficiency or pernicious anemia.
Vitamin B12 protects the myelin sheath, the fatty layer that protects your peripheral nerves. Left untreated, vitamin B12 deficiency causes damage to the nervous system, resulting in peripheral neuropathy.
In addition to limbs falling asleep, other symptoms of B12 deficiency are loss of fine motor control, trouble walking, fatigue, memory loss, “brain fog,” depression, disorientation, anxiety, insomnia, stomach upset, breathlessness, loss of appetite, and hallucinations.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency. Are you at Risk?
Nerve damage: Other types of nerve damage result from Lyme disease and frostbite.
Elderly individuals suffer from paresthesia caused by vitamin deficiency, in addition to poor circulation in the arms and legs, or peripheral vascular disease (PVD).
Arthritis: Various types of arthritis cause neuropathic pain symptoms similar to paresthesia, in addition to carpal tunnel syndrome.
Autoimmune diseases: Lupus, celiac disease, and multiple sclerosis (MS) sometimes cause chronic paresthesia.
Migraines: If you get migraine attacks, then you might also experience frequent pins and needles, or legs falling asleep.
Seizures and stroke are correlated with paresthesia.
Shingles: symptoms include numbness, tingling, and burning sensations in the skin.
Drugs: Drug interactions that may cause paresthesia symptoms are beta-blockers, beta-alanines, anticonvulsants, narcotics, opiates, and Lomotil.
Also read: Brain Drain Medications- Drugs that Drain the B12 out of you
How do you get rid of numbness and tingling?
The quicker you get your blood flowing to your extremities, the sooner you will start to feel relief. As soon as you feel your arms or legs starting to fall asleep or feel tingly, do one or all of the following:
- 1- Pump your arms.
- 2- Clench and unclench your fists.
- 3- Kick your legs.
- 4- Walk it off.
- 5- Stand up, holding onto a chair or wall for support. Put all your weight on the foot that is falling asleep, rise up on your tiptoes, and then lower to the ball of your foot. Repeat the movement, pumping up and down, without resting the heel on the floor, until pain goes away.
- 6- Massage hands, arms, legs, or feet gently.
These are helpful tips for temporarily relieving paresthesia. However, if you experience numbness, tingling, burning, or other painful symptoms frequently, then it is crucial to visit a doctor. A blood test will determine if you have vitamin B12 deficiency, or one of many other likely conditions.
Read more about vitamin B12:
Vitamin B12 Deficiency. Are you at Risk?
Multiple Sclerosis and Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Numbness and tingling: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia
What makes your arms, legs and feet fall asleep?
Image credits, from top:
Alex Holzknecht, Teleyinex, Zabowski, Josiah Mackenzie, healingdream