Relation Between Paresthesia and Fibromyalgia: The Ultimate Guide
Here is a little scenario for you,
You have been working on your desk working diligently to complete the project, and you were so engrossed in completing the project that you did not even become aware how long you have been sitting there and finishing the report.
Once you finish your project, you take a sign of relief and try to get up from the chair but you can’t.
It seems like your leg just got numb and is not able to carry your weight anymore. You have this shooting sensation of tingling going through your nerves.
You feel like your leg is sleeping and it takes up to 30 seconds to be able to stand on your leg alone. This feeling of tingling and numbness is the same feeling which people diagnosed with Paresthesia feel.
Most people often encounter this sensation but it is temporary and typically goes away after a couple of seconds.
Now imagine having this tingling and numbness sensation every day, and there is no relief from it. It is what a person suffering from Paresthesia feel on any given day.
What causes Paresthesia?
When you touch something, your sensory nerve at the tip of the finger sends signal to the spinal cord.
The signal from spinal cord is then transmitted to the brain with the help of the trigeminal nerve and brain stem. Whenever there is some obstruction in this signal pathway, it results in paresthesia.
It is an abnormal condition, and it causes people to feel a sensation of burning, numbness, tingling, itching or prickling. Some people also describe these feelings as the sensation of “crawling skin” or pinching like pins and needles.
It is important to understand the functioning of the nervous system first. This video explains about the nervous system
Clinically Paresthesia is categorized into two subcategories based on the duration this condition last.
It involves temporary numbness or tingling that disappears quickly. It can occur anywhere or anytime such as sitting with your legs cross for a long time or sleeping on the arm in a bent position.
It is the most common form of Paresthesia which is completely harmless and typically encountered by most of the people intermittently.
This condition is more permanent and persists for the extended period. It is a sign of neurological disease or traumatic nerve damage.
Paresthesia usually arises from nerve damage due to infection, inflammation, trauma, or other abnormal processes.
Paresthesia is rarely due to life-threatening disorders, but it can occur as a result of stroke and tumors.
The Cause of Transient Paresthesia:
The Transient Paresthesia is a temporary condition and does not have any significant impact on the overall health except temporary discomfort which usually goes away in short time.
Some common cause for the Transient Paresthesia:
- Obdormition: This is the numbness caused by prolonged pressure on a nerve such as if legs are crossed for the extended period which puts pressure on the nerve then leg feels like falling sleep.
- Injury/Whiplash: Soft tissue injury to the cervical due to injury or whiplash cases Paresthesia. However, these soft tissue typically heals completely in 6 months after the injury, and the paresthesia goes away.
- Hyperventilation Syndrome: People who have some respiratory disorder which causes them either breathing too deeply or too rapidly experience Paresthesia. The cause of hyperventilation could be either due to infection, blood loss, heart attack or chemical imbalance in the body which decreases the cerebral blood flow and increases the nerve sensitivity.
- Panic/Anxiety Attack: People with severe panic or anxiety attack can have temporary paresthesia. The paresthesia of the mouth, hand, and feet are common symptoms of panic/anxiety attack.
- Seizure: Paresthesia may happen during and after a partial seizure. The treatment of seizure by nerve stimulation can also create the condition of Paresthesia.
- Dehydration: A transient paresthesia can happen at 5% to 6% of water loss from body.
- Blood flow obstruction: Any disruption in the blood due to either injury or pressure on the nerve can lead to temporary or chronic paresthesia.
The Cause of Chronic Paresthesia:
The chronic paresthesia is rarely due to life-threatening disorders, but it can occur as a result of stroke or tumors.
If this Chronic Paresthesia is not treated timely, then more severe condition such as paralysis can happen which causes loss of movement and sensation.
Some common cause for the Chronic Paresthesia:
- Stroke: A serious accidental damage to the nerves or stroke can cause irreversible damage to the nervous system. In fact, paresthesia and lack of sensory feelings are considered signs of stroke. The impact on the stroke on the nervous system might not be right away, and sometimes the paresthesia or pain occur between 0 to 24 months after the attack. The effect is more prominent in the leg than other body parts.
- Brain Tumor and Injury: People with brain tumor often complain a headache, nausea, double vision, or weakness. The brain tumor causes the brain not correctly receive or interpret the nerve signals, and it often causes the Paresthesia. Injury to the head can also lead to clotting in the brains which can cause neuropsychological impairment such as paresthesia. Depending on the severity of the injury and the location of the damage, the paresthesia can be specific to that particular organ function.
- Multiple Sclerosis: People who have multiple sclerosis have paresthesia as one of the common symptoms.
- Epidural: If during the epidural procedure, common during pregnancy delivery, where the anesthesia is injected into the spinal, the needle comes in contact with the spinal nerve and causes spinal puncture then paresthesia may result.
- Vitamin B12 deficiency: Paresthesia found to be prevalent in people with vitamin B12 deficiency.
- Disc Herniation: The disc herniation happens when there is tear in the outer, fibrous ring of the intervertebral disc. It usually results due to old age, trauma or injuries as a result of lifting a heavy object. The compression of the nerve by a disc herniation could lead to paresthesia.
- Neuralgia: Patients with neuralgia have a painful sensation in one or multiple nerves which can be mild to severe and sometimes chronic.
- Diabetes: Diabetes is the most common cause of paresthesia in the United States. Patients with diabetes have their sensory nerve gradually deteriorate which causes paresthesia. It is the most common in the middle age people or patients with type 2 diabetes.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis: Patients with rheumatoid arthritis often have paresthesia. Rheumatoid cervical myelopathy causes paresthesia in the arm and neck.
Fibromyalgia and Paresthesia:
Fibromyalgia patients suffer from chronic pain in the muscles, bones, and have fatigue like symptoms.
It is believed to be caused by the misfiring in the central nervous system which cause the nervous system to send pain signals to the brain consistently. It causes over exhaustion to the brain, and the pain and fatigue occur.
There is common trigger points and tenderness in the specific areas of the body which is also called trigger or tender points.
These are over sensitive part of the area, and a slight pressure causes pain and discomfort in the patients. The cause of fibromyalgia can be many, but the primary cause is found to be injury, illness, trauma, infection and stress.
Although fibromyalgia can happen to anyone and at any age but women in the age range of 19-45 are found to be more at risk than men or children. Now why the women are more prone to fibromyalgia than men is not known. A family history of fibromyalgia increases the risk of getting the same condition.
There is no cure for fibromyalgia yet; instead, many treatments focus on reducing the pain and other symptoms either through using prescription medications, exercise, and lifestyle and dietary changes.
The paresthesia is not related to the fibromyalgia as the cause of these two conditions is entirely separate, but there are some overlapping conditions such as injury, trauma, illness which can cause damage to the central nervous system.
Depending on the type of paresthesia someone has, it either requires no treatment or requires some painkiller prescriptions.
You have to see a neurologist if you have persistent paresthesia whereas fibromyalgia is a catch-all condition of all the symptoms and you might need to see more than one specialist to find some relief.
Paresthesia and Fibromyalgia condition are not mutually exclusive. Paresthesia is one of the symptoms of fibromyalgia as many fibromyalgia patients may experience paresthesia while having other symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Patients with paresthesia and fibromyalgia often experience numbness, tingling, pinching, and burning sensation in their feet and hand.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition which can result in symptoms lasting for the rest of life.
The combination of paresthesia and fibromyalgia often makes the diagnosis and treatment difficult. The symptoms of both conditions can either happen intermittently or incur both at the same time.
For example, some patients have reported having the intense burning sensation in the hands or feet and then after some time get an irritating itch.
Living with Paresthesia and Fibromyalgia Condition
It is no fun to develop either of those two conditions let alone to have both at the same time. It is not only painful but also hard to make other understand your situation.
People suffering from these conditions have a painful expression on their face which sometimes makes others people give them strange looks.
Although the symptoms of paresthesia are common in most of the people, but some people also experience strange symptoms which they often describe as” Running Warm Water Sensation” or "crawling ants.” It feels as someone has poured warm water on their body or millions of ants walking around creating a tingling sensation.
The severity of this symptoms either does not affect the function of the body part such as a leg or it can be so severe that it affects the mobility of normal functioning.
In rare cases, people experience a momentary loss of sensation followed by the blurred vision. Although there is no direct relation between paresthesia and blurred vision it can be due to lifestyle issue such as more sedentary job and sitting in front of the computer without a significant break in between.
Diagnosing and Treating Paresthesia in Fibromyalgia Patients
Research published in Journal of Rheumatol, found 84% fibromyalgia patients to have numbness or to tingle in their hands and feet at initial assessment. Most of these patients had upper extremity paresthesia.
Second evaluation after 25 months showed over 98% had developed paresthesia. It indicates that it is progressive condition and fibromyalgia patients have a higher chance of developing paresthesia in the longer time frame.
In another study by Ersoz M, the nerve conduction study (NCS) was performed on the fibromyalgia patients, and then the result was compared to the people with no pre-existing condition.
The NCS test is used to evaluate the ability of motor and sensory nerves to transmit the electrical signal. This test helps to locate the pain point in the limbs and if there is any weakness from the spinal nerve compression.
The result of the study showed that fibromyalgia patients had no abnormal nerve conduction compared to the healthy people except they had longer peroneal distal motor latency and a decrease in peroneal motor conduction velocity.
In plain English, it means that nerves were able to detect the sensory signals but were slow to respond and transmit these signals to the brain.
Fibromyalgia patients also showed the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), but it is as common as in the general population. The main symptoms of CTS are a pain, numbness, and tingling in hand, and fingers.
A study by Sarmer S concluded that paresthesia are common symptoms in fibromyalgia patients. Fibromyalgia patients with paresthesia symptoms should also get checked for the possibility of carpal tunnel syndrome.
A study published in Journal of Rheumatol by Perez-Ruiz F, indicated the rate of under diagnosed CTS in women with fibromyalgia to be much higher than the rate reported in the general population. So women with fibromyalgia condition are more prone to develop CTS in addition to the paresthesia.
Nerve conduction velocity (NCV) test is required to evaluate under diagnosed CTS in patients with FM and dermatomal paresthesia in their hands
Treatment of Paresthesia in Fibromyalgia Patients
The treatment of paresthesia in fibromyalgia patients depends on first understanding the underlying the cause of paresthesia. Some of the treatment solutions are easy to implement such as if the paresthesia is due to repetitive movements of the hands or feet, then a little change in the lifestyle to give your limb a rest might be able to reduce the paresthesia.
Transient paresthesia, for example, where limb have fallen asleep can be cured by getting blood circulation again in the limb either by massage, small walk or light exercise. It is a temporary condition and soon goes away.
People in sedentary jobs are recommended to take a break in between work and do the light stretching exercise to relieve any compressed nerve.
If you have numbness or tingling feelings in your legs or feet, you should always consult with your doctor.
There are some home remedies which you can do if the paresthesia condition is not severe.
- Rest: If you are exhausted due to physical work or if you have a recent injury then taking a proper rest can help your body to heal and recover.
- Temperature therapy: if you have numbness or pain due to injury then icing the injured area can reduce the numbness and suffering. Besides, you can also use heat compression which increases the blood flow in the numbed area and relaxed the muscle. Taking a warm shower also helps to reduce the pain or stiffness in the muscle.
- Massage: Massaging the tight or numbed area can also relieve the stress in the muscles and increase the blow flow. It can be especially useful if you have stiffed muscles as massage stimulates the muscles and releases the hormones which relax the muscles. You can also try foot baths where you can use Epsom salt in the bath tub and leave your foot in there for a while. Epsom salt contains magnesium which can raise blood circulation in your foot.
- Exercise: It goes without mentioning the benefits of exercise. A light exercise not only boosts your heart beats but also increases the blood circulation. If you are sitting around for an extended period then getting up and moving around can help you to get the blood flowing into all parts of the body.
Non-Prescription Medication For relief
There are lots of over the counter medication you can take to relieve your paresthesia and fibromyalgia.
Below is the list of some products which can provide you immediate relief from the paresthesia and fibromyalgia conditions.
Penetrex has established itself as a Breakthrough, Advanced formulation that has rapidly become THE #1 Preferred Choice for those suffering through Arthritis, Back Pain, Muscle Pain, Shin Splints, Neuropathy, Fibromyalgia, Sports Injuries, Repetitive Strain Injuries and other Inflammation Related Ailments.
Methylcobalamin (Methyl B-12) is better absorbed and retained than other forms of B12 (e.g., cyanocobalamin). Methyl B-12 supports nerve tissue and brain cells, promotes better sleep and converts (via methylation) toxic homocysteine to the essential amino acid methionine. Also, vegetarians/vegans typically require B12 supplementation.
The Pure Compression Wrist Sleeve is for you! It is the best wrist sleeve to help reduce wrist pain and carpal tunnel syndrome. It offers wearers a full range of motion. The comfortable material allows it to be worn for hours after hours.
Paresthesia caused by disease or injury may require more invasive treatment such as getting surgery to release the compressed nerve or giving proper medication to treat the infection.
Typically, in most of the cases, a combination approach of lifestyle changes and use of medicines can help to relieve the paresthesia conditions.
Your doctor can also prescribe you a low level dose of antidepressant which helps your pain by altering your perception of the pain. For severe paresthesia pain condition, your doctor can also prescribe you strong painkillers such as codeine.
In some extreme cases, the nerve damage could be irreversible, and a consultation with a specialist will be required to find the most effective treatment in that case.
In fibromyalgia patients using methods to reduce the fibromyalgia symptoms can also help with paresthesia conditions.
Although there is no one universal solution to treat paresthesia in fibromyalgia patients a correct diagnosis of the cause of the problem and addressing those issues should be able to give relief from paresthesia.
Some alternative treatment options for fibromyalgia conditions such as providing a dose of vitamin B complex supplements, particularly B12 seems to help but be careful of the supplementary overdose as vitamin B6 increases the possibility of creating paresthesia.
Also, use of alcohol slows down the nerve functioning. People with paresthesia condition should avoid consuming alcohol as it can make the paresthesia symptom to be worse.
Nerve Growth Factor in Treating Paresthesia
Medical researchers have been looking multiple conventional and unconventional ways to relieve the pain and treat paresthesia. Recently much attention has been paid to nerve growth factors in the body.
The whole theme of nerve generation is to replace the damaged nerve by letting the body grow the new nerve and replace the damaged nerve.
One way researchers are looking is to use tissues from other body parts and implant it in the damaged nerve area. The other way is to use the gene of the NGF-beta protein family. This protein has been identified with the nerve growth stimulating activity.
Fibromyalgia patients are prone to have paresthesia conditions and since women are more prone to get fibromyalgia which means they are also more likely to suffer from paresthesia as well.
Living with paresthesia in fibromyalgia patients is a painful experience, and it not only lowers the quality of life for the patients but also make them more depressed and stressed due to chronic pain conditions.
It is important to see a doctor when you first notice the longer than usual paresthesia symptoms.
Early diagnosis and prevention might be the key to keeping this problem in checked, and a proper treatment either by a change in the lifestyle or prescription of the medication or both can help you to get relief from this condition.
If you have been diagnosed with the fibromyalgia and have Paresthesia condition, then we would love to hear your experience in the comment below.
You can also join the discussion at the Fibromyalgia Pain Cure Facebook page which is dedicated to a discussion of natural treatments for fibromyalgia and other chronic pain conditions.
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