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Paresthesia refers to a burning or prickling sensation that is usually felt in the hands, arms, legs, or feet, but can also occur in other parts of the body. The sensation, which happens without warning, is usually painless and may be a sign of underlying disease.


Other Names

  • Paraesthesia (British)

Signs and Symptoms

Paresthesia has been described as feelings of:

  • Tingling
  • Numbness
  • Burning
  • Itching
  • Crawling


Chronic paresthesia is often a symptom of an underlying neurological disease or traumatic nerve damage.

Paresthesia can be caused by disorders affecting the central nervous system, such as:

A tumor or vascular lesion pressed up against the brain or spinal cord can also cause paresthesia.

Nerve entrapment syndromes, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, can damage peripheral nerves and cause paresthesia accompanied by pain.

Certain systemic diseases can cause paresthesia. These may include:

Vitamin deficiency, most commonly the B vitamins, may cause paresthesia.

Medications or chemical exposure may also cause paresthesia.


Diagnostic evaluation is based on determining the underlying condition causing the paresthetic sensations. An individual's medical history, physical examination, and laboratory tests are essential for the diagnosis. Physicians may order additional tests depending on the suspected cause of the paresthesia.


The appropriate treatment for paresthesia depends on accurate diagnosis of the underlying cause.

Clinical Trials

A list of ongoing clinical trials related to paresthesia is available from paresthesia trials


Recent discoveries

Future research

  • The use of pregabalin, an antiepileptic medicine often used to treat chronic pain, is being studied as a therapy for paresthesia caused by chemotherapy for colorectal cancer. [2]
  • A study is evaluating the use of a new medicine, BNP7787, to treat paraesthesia resulting from the chemotherapeutic agent paclitaxel (Taxol). [3]

Expected Outcome

The prognosis for those with paresthesia depends on the severity of the sensations and the associated disorders.



Paresthesia is from the Greek Para (alongside or altered) and esthesia (feeling).


  1. Phase III Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study of Mexiletine for Painful Diabetic Neuropathy
  2. Prevention And Treatment Of Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy Symptoms In Subjects With Adv. Colorectal Cancer.
  3. Evaluation of BNP7787 for the Prevention of Neurotoxicity in Metastatic Breast Cancer Patients Receiving Weekly Paclitaxel

External Links

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: NINDS Paresthesia Information Page

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