Crawling Right Out of Your Skin

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Crawling Right Out of Your Skin

Sometimes it’s enjoyable to sit down and relax on the couch or in your chair. You prop up your legs, kick back and read, watch a show, or simply enjoy the silence. The peace and serenity are wonderful until pins and needles start to crawl through your feet and legs. This common sensation that almost everyone experiences at one point or another is known as paresthesia. This sensation usually occurs because you’ve accidentally put pressure on a nerve. It stops once you have moved or adjusted and the pressure that was once affecting the nerve is removed. This type of paresthesia is temporary and usually goes away without treatment. If the paresthesia persists, you may have a medical disorder that requires treatment.

What causes paresthesia?

It’s not always possible to determine the cause of paresthesia because it is often linked to other underlying conditions. Temporary paresthesia is often due to pressure on a nerve or brief periods of poor circulation. This can happen when you fall asleep on your hand or sit with your legs crossed for too long. Chronic paresthesia may be a sign of disease or nerve damage. Two types of nerve damage are radiculopathy and neuropathy.


Radiculopathy is a condition in which nerve roots become compressed, irritated, or inflamed. This can occur when you have:

  • a herniated disk that presses on a nerve
  • narrowing of the canal that transmits the nerve from your spinal cord to your appendage
  • a mass that binds the nerve as it exits the spine

Radiculopathy that affects your lower back is called lumbar radiculopathy. Lumbar radiculopathy can cause paresthesia in your leg or foot.


Neuropathy occurs due to chronic nerve damage. The most common cause of neuropathy is high blood sugar which is common in patients with diabetes.  Diabetes is not the only cause for neuropathy - other causes can be:

  • trauma
  • repetitive movement injuries
  • kidney diseases
  • liver diseases
  • stroke
  • tumors in the brain or near nerves
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • neurological disease

Treatment depends on the cause of the paresthesia. If the paresthesia is triggered by overuse or trauma, with lifestyle adjustments, orthotics, and other minor changes, it can be cured. Unfortunately, if it is due to nerve damage, then paresthesia is often permanent.

If you are experiencing the pins and needles feeling even when you are not sitting in an odd position, it is important to see a podiatrist right away. Paresthesia in the feet and legs can be an indicator of other disorders that should not be overlooked. Call Dr. Alan J. Discont and Dr. Krahn of Family Foot & Ankle Care, PC located in Chandler, Arizona. Call 480-732-0033 or make an appointment online today. Catching paresthesia early can help to prevent more serious problems down the road.