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Understanding Numbness & Tingling: Causes, Signs, & Treatment

Almost everyone experiences paresthesia at some point in their life. This condition often occurs in the arms, hands, legs, and feet. Some instances may also cause you to feel the sensation on your face.

 But what is paresthesia? Paresthesia is the medical term for the numbness and tingling sensation you feel on your limbs. This feeling usually happens when you fall asleep on your arm or cross your legs for a prolonged period. Both of these scenarios are harmless. However, paresthesia can also be caused by diseases, previous injuries, and medications you might be taking.

This article will focus on these scenarios and explore their common signs, causes, treatments, and preventive measures. 

Diabetic neuropathy

Diabetic neuropathy is a common and serious complication among those with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. It’s a type of nerve damage caused by high blood sugar levels.

This condition can lead to injuries and infection if left unattended, as your nerves will not give you the feedback it needs to address the problem. For instance, you may not feel a wound on your feet, which can lead to various types of infection.

Below are four types of diabetic neuropathy:

  • Peripheral neuropathy – this type often affects your legs and feet with varying symptoms. You may feel muscle weakness, decreased sensitivity to hot or cold, cramping, numbness, and tingling.
  • Autonomic neuropathy – this is another common type that can affect your bladder, sex organs, digestive system, or cardiovascular system. What makes autonomic neuropathy complicated are scenarios wherein you won’t know that you’re having a heart attack. This condition won’t register chest pains even if the heart is already having insufficient oxygen.
  • Proximal neuropathy – this is a rare type of diabetic neuropathy that affects the hips, thighs, or buttocks. It often occurs on one side of the body, with most people recovering after a few years even without proper intervention. 
  • Focal neuropathy – otherwise known as mononeuropathy, this condition occurs when a specific nerve or group of nerves is affected. The most common form is carpal tunnel syndrome, where the median nerve is abnormally compressed due to swelling in your wrist.


Unfortunately, there’s no cure for diabetic neuropathy. However, you can significantly slow down its progression by making lifestyle changes that’ll keep your blood sugar at healthy levels. Diet changes, regular exercises, and refraining from smoking are just a few ways for you to manage diabetic neuropathy.

Remember to first consult with your doctor before implementing strenuous activities into your daily routine. Ask if you should take additional supplements or undergo other treatments to manage complications better.

Alcoholic neuropathy

Chronic alcohol abuse can lead to alcoholic neuropathy as the substance disrupts nutrients needed for proper nerve function. Muscle atrophy, muscle weakness, numbness in the hands, tingling in the legs, movement disorders, and poor sexual functions are some of the symptoms brought by this condition.

These symptoms can last for months or years, depending on its severity and how well it’s being handled. Diagnosing alcoholic neuropathy can be challenging as chronic alcohol abuse causes malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies. 


As alcohol is the leading cause of this condition, complete cessation of its consumption is the primary treatment for it. This can be complicated for some people who have become alcohol dependent.

In this case, inpatient rehabilitation is the recommended strategy. When alcohol consumption is halted, your physician will start to focus on the neuropathy itself. Your physician may require you to take various vitamin supplements like the following:

  • Thiamine
  • Folate
  • Niacin
  • vitamins B6
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin E

All of these play a vital role in proper nerve function. Other treatments for managing alcoholic neuropathy include:

  • Physical therapy to address muscle atrophy
  • Medication to address sexual dysfunction
  • Medication for urination difficulty
  • Wearing safety gear like special leg stockings to prevent dizziness or injuries caused by movement disorders

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease affecting the central nervous system. It causes your immune system to attack your myelin, the protective layer coating your nerves, leading to poor communication between your brain and body. The most common symptoms of MS are numbness and tingling sensations on your face, body, and extremities.

In some cases, the numbness and tingling sensation can be so severe that it heavily disrupts a person’s everyday activities. Eating is affected, self-care becomes a frustrating chore, and some may accidentally bite their tongue and inner mouth.

 At the moment, it’s still unknown what causes MS. There are also no specific tests to diagnose this disease. What healthcare professionals do is conduct an extensive neurological exam that might rule out other conditions causing similar symptoms. Blood tests, spinal fluid analysis, and MRI are also used to determine if your condition is multiple sclerosis.


There are also no direct treatments for multiple sclerosis. As such, the usual strategy is to manage the condition, slow down its progress, and accelerate recovery from attacks.

  • Corticosteroids – this is used to control nerve inflammation. The medication can either be oral or intravenous.
  • Ocrelizumab – this drug is given to patients who have primary-progressive MS. This drug is the only disease-modifying medication approved by the FDA.
  • Niacin or Vitamin B-3 supplement – used to reduce numbness and tingling.
  • Glatiramer acetate (Copaxone, Glatopa) – this medication helps block the attack carried out by your immune system to your myelin.
  • Fingolimod, Dimethyl fumarate – these drugs reduce the relapse rate of MS. However, constant monitoring is vital as these drugs have serious side effects.
  • Physical therapy – a physical therapist will help you with stretching and strengthening exercises. This is to help you perform self-care when the numbness and tingling sensation has disrupted your daily activities.
  • Muscle relaxants – this will be prescribed if you’re suffering from painful spasms and muscle stiffness from MS. 

When to See Your Doctor

If you’re experiencing sudden numbness and tingling sensations with unexplained causes, talk to your doctor immediately. Determining and treating the root cause of the issue is a vital step in preventing further complications. And, of course, you can apply the necessary lifestyle changes as early as possible, increasing your chances of full recovery.

Learn more about different musculoskeletal conditions and fitness when you check out the LifeClinic blog today.

Dr. Reza Alizadeh

Dr. Reza is the visionary behind LifeClinic. His leadership is the foundation for the patient and team member experience, and overall direction of the LifeClinic. As the creator of IMJT, Dr. Reza continues to be the primary teacher on this technique.

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