Paresthesia. Pins and Needles? Learn About Symptoms & Supplements

Updated: 10/4/23

Have you ever felt a “pins and needles” sensation in your limbs? Many of us have experienced this strange feeling at some point in our lives, but not everyone knows what it is. This sensation is known as paresthesia – an abnormality of the neural system, usually involving numbness and tingling. Paresthesia can manifest itself in many forms, from burning to even altered sensations of temperature or taste in the affected area. In today’s blog post, we’ll be exploring paresthesia; we’ll dive into its various symptoms and potential causes so that you can be more mindful of this condition going forward.

What is Paresthesia?

Paresthesia is a condition characterized by an abnormal sensation in the skin, such as tingling, numbness, itching, prickling, and burning. It can occur in one or more areas of the body, including the hands, feet, legs, and arms. Paresthesia is often caused by nerve damage, which disrupts the normal transmission of signals from the brain to the affected body parts.

Have you ever slept on your arm and woken up with it numb? Or sat cross-legged for extended periods of time only to need a moment to get feeling back in your feet? That’s paresthesia.

However, it can arise from other underlying conditions and become more chronic and problematic. For example, neurological disorders or injury to one part of the body can cause paresthesia to persist.

Temporary paresthesia generally resolves on its own. When it’s chronic, however, getting to the root of the cause is necessary to determine the best way to treat it.

Symptoms of Paresthesia

Paresthesia can happen anywhere on the body, but its usually felt on the hands, arms, legs and feet. The sensations associated with it include:

  • Tingling
  • “Pins and needles”
  • Numbness
  • Pain or discomfort
  • Increased sensitivity to touch
  • Burning
  • Formication — the feeling like there are ants under the skin

Some types of paresthesia can cause additional symptoms like:

  • Loss of coordination
  • Muscle weakness, particularly in the feet
  • Atrophy of muscles or glandular tissue

Paresthesia with Anxiety

Anxiety can cause or worsen the symptoms of paresthesia. When someone experiences anxiety, they may tense up their muscles, which can lead to a reduction in blood flow to the nerves, causing the sensation of paresthesia. Additionally, anxiety can cause hyperventilation, which can lead to a decrease in carbon dioxide in the blood, causing paresthesia.

Paresthesia and Menopause

Paresthesia during menopause is primarily due to the hormonal changes happening in the woman’s body. The decrease in estrogen levels can affect the nerve endings, causing tingling and numbness in different areas of the body. Other causes of paresthesia during menopause may include diabetes, alcoholism, kidney disease, hypothyroidism, or certain medications.

Symptoms of Paresthesia

Causes of Paresthesia

An abnormality that occurs anywhere on the sensory pathway between the peripheral nerves (the ones outside of your brain and spinal cord) and the sensory cortex (the part of the brain that receives and interprets sensory information from the rest of the body) causes paresthesia.

But besides things like simply falling asleep in a strange position, what can cause this? The causes of chronic paresthesia can fall into three subcategories — peripheral neuropathy, radiculopathy and issues related to the central nervous system.

Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy, a type of paresthesia, occurs when there’s a disturbance — usually some type of damage — within the nerves of the hands, feet, legs, arms, face or torso. Many underlying medical conditions can cause this. These include:


Radiculopathy is a lot like peripheral neuropathy, but happens when tissue swells around the root of a nerve (the spot where the nerve originates). This is also commonly called a “pinched nerve” and can occur along different areas of the spine. Bone spurs, carpal tunnel syndrome and sciatica are examples of a type of radiculopathy.

Nerve Damage

One of the most common causes of paresthesia is nerve damage. This can occur for a number of reasons, such as physical trauma or compression of the nerves. Repetitive motions, such as typing on a keyboard or playing an instrument, can also lead to nerve damage over time. In some cases, nerve damage can be irreversible, so it’s important to seek medical attention if you suspect this may be the cause of your paresthesia.

Poor Circulation

Paresthesia can also be caused by poor circulation, which can occur when blood flow to a particular area of the body is restricted. This can happen as a result of a blood clot or atherosclerosis, a condition where the arteries become narrowed and hardened. Smoking, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle can all contribute to poor circulation, making it important to maintain a healthy lifestyle to reduce the risk of paresthesia.

Vitamin Deficiencies

Certain vitamin deficiencies, such as those of vitamins B6, B12, and E, can cause paresthesia. These vitamins play a critical role in nerve function and regeneration, so it’s important to consume a balanced diet rich in these nutrients. Supplements may be necessary if you’re not able to get enough of these vitamins from your diet alone.


Diabetes is another common cause of Paresthesia. High levels of glucose in the bloodstream can damage the nerves, resulting in numbness, tingling and other sensory issues. If left untreated, it can escalate into serious complications, including nerve damage, leading to limb amputation.

Central Nervous System (CNS)

Parasthesia can also result from problems with the CNS. Strokes, encephalitis (swelling of the brain) and even some of the previously mentioned autoimmune disorders like multiple sclerosis can cause abnormal skin sensations originating from the CNS.

Anxiety and Stress

Anxiety and stress can cause hormonal changes in the body that affect the nervous system, leading to paresthesia. The sensations usually disappear once the stressor has been removed or the stress response has subsided.


Some medications can cause paresthesia as a side effect. Drugs that are known to have this effect include chemotherapy drugs, anticonvulsants, and certain antibiotics. If you’re experiencing paresthesia and you’re taking any of these medications, it’s important to talk to your doctor to see if there are any alternatives that may be less likely to cause this sensation.

Treatment of Paresthesia

Treatment for paresthesia depends on the underlying cause. Addressing nutritional deficiencies, managing an autoimmune disease or surgically addressing a pinched nerve in the spine are examples of ways to relieve chronic paresthesia. Your medical team can advise you of treatment options based on your particular case.


One of the most common treatment options for paresthesia is medication. Depending on the underlying condition, the doctor may prescribe medication to relieve the symptoms. For example, if paresthesia is causing nerve damage, the doctor may recommend pain-relieving medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or anticonvulsants. If the condition is by a vitamin deficiency, supplements or injections will be a part of the treatment plan.

Physical Therapy

In situations where paresthesia is caused by an injury or muscle strain, physical therapy is an excellent treatment option. Physical therapy includes exercises, stretching, and other techniques that help decrease pain and improve mobility. It also enhances blood flow to the affected area, which can promote healing.

Lifestyle Changes

Lifestyle changes are also vital in treating paresthesia. This includes modifying your diet, exercise regimen, and lifestyle habits. For example, if paresthesia is by a vitamin deficiency, the treatment plan may include increasing the consumption of vitamin B12-rich foods such as fish, meat, and dairy products. Quitting smoking, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep can also help relieve the symptoms of paresthesia.


In rare cases where paresthesia is severe or caused by a blockage, surgery may be the best treatment option. For instance, if paresthesia by a herniated disc, surgery may be necessary to relieve the pressure on the nerve. Surgical procedures vary depending on the underlying condition, and patients must weigh the benefits and risks of surgery with their doctor.

Alternative Treatments

In addition to medication and physical therapy, alternative treatments such as acupuncture, chiropractic, and massage therapy have also demonstrated effectiveness in managing paresthesia symptoms. These treatments increase blood flow, reduce inflammation and relieve pain, thus promoting healing.

Supplements for Paresthesia

Vitamin D

While too much vitamin D can be an underlying cause of parasthesia, those with a vitamin D deficiency may find improvement in neuropathy symptoms by taking a supplement. If you’re experiencing chronic paresthesia and/or neuropathy, it’s best to get your vitamin D levels seen by a doctor to see if you are getting too much or could benefit from a little more. To take vitamin D3 for neuropathy, ask your doctor what dose is right for you. Vitamin D3 is highly toxic in higher amounts. Because of the concentration of this supplement is, be sure to measure and consume it with care. Do not supplement this product if you do not have an accurate milligram scale.


This important mineral has many roles in the body and helps with healthy nerve impulse control. Those more at risk for paresthesia, such as people with diabetes type 2 or who drink a lot of alcohol, also tend to be most at risk of magnesium deficiency. As a result, supplemental magnesium may help relieve symptoms of paresthesia and neuropathy. Supplements come in many forms like magnesium citrate, magnesium oxide and magnesium carbonate. Follow label directions or your doctor’s instructions for whichever product you choose.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause paresthesia. This is because B12 plays a large role in the proper functioning of the nervous system. Some signs of a B12 deficiency include tingling in the hands and feet or soreness in the mouth and tongue. Those most at risk for a deficiency include vegetarians and vegans (since B12 in food comes from meat) and people who have had stomach surgery or have malabsorption issues. As a supplement, take vitamin B12 in servings of 100 mg or 200 mg once per day or as recommended by your doctor.

Folic Acid

Folic acid is also known as vitamin B9. It’s found in foods in the form of folate and is important for a healthy nervous system. A folic acid/folate deficiency, especially combined with low B12, could cause paresthesia. As a supplement, it is recommended that individuals take no more than 500 to 1,000 micrograms of folic acid daily. Do not exceed 1,000 mcg. Pregnant women should limit intake to take 300 to 400 mcg per day. Since individual needs will vary, it is important to consult a physician prior to supplementation. An accurate microgram scale is to measure out this supplement.

Alpha Lipoic Acid

Studies show that the antioxidant properties of alpha lipoic acid can help reduce nerve damage associated with conditions like type 2 diabetes and carpal tunnel syndrome. It can be found in a wide range of foods like red meat, spinach, broccoli and tomatoes and is also available as a supplement. Alpha-lipoic acid shows to improve nerve damage, making it a promising supplement for individuals with paresthesia. It acts as an antioxidant and has reduction of inflammation in nerve cells. It is recommended that ALA alpha lipoic acid be taken at a dose of 600 mg once or twice daily with meals, depending on the intended effect. Do not to take too much at once, as this might cause imbalanced levels of ALA.


Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALCAR) is an amino acid that helps the body to produce energy and protect the nervous system. It’s showing to have positive effects on peripheral nerve function, which helps to relieve paresthesia symptoms. A 2018 study found that participants who took ALCAR supplements for six months reported a significant improvement in paresthesia symptoms. ALCAR is found naturally in animal products like meat, fish, and dairy, but it’s also available in supplement form.

The Bottom Line

Paresthesia itself is not dangerous, but causes clumsiness and a loss of coordination that can lead to falls and other accidents. Most of the time it’s a temporary result of pressure placement on a nerve. However, paresthesia and its related neuropathy can signal a much more serious underlying problem. Uncovering the cause of chronic paresthesia is the only way to know how to properly treat it. 

Paresthesia can be a frustrating condition, but there are many supplements available that may help to relieve symptoms. Vitamin B-12, alpha-lipoic acid, magnesium, acetyl-L-carnitine, and vitamin D are some of the best supplements for paresthesia. However, it’s always important to speak to your doctor before taking any new supplements or making significant changes to your diet. Incorporate these supplements into a balanced diet to improve your overall nerve health and reduce the frequency and severity of paresthesia symptoms.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease

Author: BulkSupplements Staff