What is paresthesia?
Paresthesia is a symptom characterized by the sensation of numbness or tingling in some part of the body. It can affect the limbs such as arms, legs, hands, but it can also be present in less common areas, such as the mouth, being called, in these cases, oral paresthesia.
It is curable and usually appears after a member of the body has been under a lot of pressure for a while, such as when sitting cross-legged.
Contrary to what popular wisdom says, the sensation of numbness and tingling in the limbs does not happen because of the impediment of blood circulation, but because of the pressure applied on a nerve.
Oral paresthesia, however, has different causes. It usually occurs after some surgical orthodontic procedure, such as wisdom teeth removal, for example. In some cases, very rare, oral paresthesia can be definitive. It happens when there is a total rupture of one of the nerves in the mouth and is caused by an error during the orthodontic procedure.
In general, we can define paresthesia as a type of temporary and harmless numbness. However, if its presence is constant and recurrent, this may be an indication of another disease and medical assistance is recommended.
Find out more about paresthesia, its complications and treatments below!
There are, in general, three types of paresthesia. The temporary, the chronic and the one that reaches the mouth, called oral paresthesia. Understand the difference:
Temporary paresthesia is what affects most people. Everyone has experienced or will experience temporary paresthesia. It is characterized by a tingling sensation in some part of the body and usually happens when you have your legs or arms crossed for a long time.
In such cases, constant pressure is applied to a nerve, which causes it to lose some communication and cause a tingling sensation when it returns to its natural state.
Unlike temporary paresthesia, chronic can be indicative of more serious problems with the functioning of nerves or the circulatory system.
It especially affects individuals who are already old as a result of a malfunction of blood circulation in the body members (arm and legs). It is usually caused by age-related problems, such as atherosclerosis , a chronic inflammation of the inner layers of the arteries that causes inflammation.
In addition, nerve irritation, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome are common causes for chronic paraplasty.
Paresthesia can also manifest in the mouth. Much more uncomfortable than the other types, it is caused by some nerve injury in the lower jaw, usually affected by a surgical procedure.
In oral paresthesia, numbness of part of the tongue, part of the lips and / or part of the chin occurs. Usually, there are no major complications, as the symptoms disappear naturally once the nerves begin to recover naturally.
It is not common for paresthesia to happen in the mouth. To tell the truth, it affects only about 5% of all cases of oral surgery.
However, in some situations, paresthesia can be definitive. This will only happen, however, if there has been a complete rupture of a nerve in the chin region, which is not common. This type of injury is usually manifested by an error during the procedure.
Many people confuse paresthesia with paralysis, which are two very different things.
It’s quite simple: while paresthesia is about loss of sensation in a region, paralysis is about loss of mobility in a region. We speak of paralysis only when voluntary movements become impossible .
There are several causes for paresthesia. The most common, which we all experience, is related to nerve compression, which causes temporary paresthesia, the famous numbness that we experience from time to time.
It happens, for example, when we sit on the hand for a long time, or after sitting cross-legged for a long time. It happens both because of the pressure exerted on the nerve and because there was a brief period when blood does not circulate properly in the affected region.
However, when we talk about this type of paresthesia, we are talking about the temporary. Chronic, on the other hand, can be caused, in general, by nerve damage.
There are two types of nerve damage that can cause paresthesia: radiculopathy and neuropathy.
In addition, there is still oral paresthesia, which usually occurs after a consultation with the dentist and is temporary and is also known as prolonged anesthesia. Check out the different causes of paresthesia below:
Radiculopathy occurs when the nerve roots become pinched, irritated or inflamed. This can happen if you have:
- Herniated disc, which puts a lot of pressure on a nerve;
- A narrowing of the channel that transmits the spinal cord nerve to an extremity;
- Any mass that compresses the nerve that exists in the spinal column.
Even so, there are still two variations of radiculopathy: lumbar and cervical. They differ by the area they affect and the symptoms they cause. Check out:
Lumbar radiculopathy usually affects the legs and feet, causing paresthesia. In severe cases, it is related to compression of the sciatic nerve, a large nerve that begins at the bottom of the spinal cord, which can cause the legs to feel weak.
Cervical radiculopathy, on the other hand, affects the feeling of strength in the arms. It is usually caused by direct pressure exerted on some of the nerves in the spine. Its main symptoms are:
- Chronic pain in the neck;
- Paresthesia in the upper extremities;
- Weakness of the arms;
- Weakness of the hands.
Neuropathy, on the other hand, occurs when the nerve is injured several times, in a chronic way. The most common cause of neuropathies is hyperglycemia , that is, high blood sugar levels.
Other possible causes for neuropathy include:
- Repetitive movement injuries;
- Autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis;
- Neurological diseases, such as multiple sclerosis;
- Kidney diseases;
- Liver disease;
- Tumors in the brain or near the nerves;
- Bone marrow or connective tissue disorders;
- Deficiencies in vitamin B1, B6, B12 and niacin;
- High intake of vitamin D;
- Infections, such as Lyme disease, herpes zoster or HIV;
- Medications, such as chemotherapy;
- Exposure to toxic substances, such as heavy metals.
In the mouth, the cases of paresthesia are a little different. They usually happen after a surgical procedure, such as the extraction of a wisdom tooth or the removal of cysts. Even so, cases of oral paresthesia are small, reaching an index of 5% of patients.
They occur because there was an injury to one of the nerves in the jaw, which has a connection to the chin. So, an anesthesia applied in the region, for example, can also lead to paresthesia. However, most cases of oral paresthesia are temporary and take about 1 week to 1 month to disappear, depending on the patient.
Other procedures that can cause oral paresthesia are:
- Apicectomy (surgery to remove lesions at the root of the tooth);
- Orthognathic surgery;
- Face trauma surgery;
- Non-surgical procedures, such as anesthesia.
Mouth surgeries are always quite complicated, as they require a very high degree of thoroughness. The incisions, cuts and needles are usually in millimeter proportions and all the structures are very close.
Therefore, however experienced and competent the surgeon may be, he is liable to make mistakes.
An error on the part of the surgeon is usually one of the determining factors for paresthesia to occur, but, as with all surgery, the patient must be aware of the thoroughness of the surgery and the risks that it involves.
Therefore, before performing any surgery that involves the risk of paresthesia, the good professional should inform his patient of the chances of any problem happening. Although the procedure is simple, transparency is essential.
Because it is not necessarily a disease, but a symptom, anyone can experience temporary paresthesia. Even so, the risk of experiencing the symptoms of paresthesia increases with age and may also increase your chances if you:
- Performs repetitive movements that repeatedly compress the nerves, such as typing, playing an instrument or playing impact sports;
- Have a high intake of alcohol and a poor diet that leads to vitamin deficiency, especially of vitamins B12 and folate;
- You have type 1 or 2 diabetes;
- You have an autoimmune condition;
- You have a neurological condition.
The most common symptoms of paresthesia are the sensation of tingling or numbness in some region. It can affect any part of the body, but it usually focuses on the following places:
Because it can be temporary or chronic, its symptoms vary. In the temporary, the symptoms are not much of the sensation of tingling and numbness. However, in the case of chronic paresthesia, some symptoms such as weakness, burning or feeling cold or hot may appear.
In addition, chronic paresthesia can cause pain that manifests as if you are getting stitches. This can lead to loss of sensation in the affected limb, which can make walking, for example, more difficult.
If you have any of these symptoms in a chronic way, that is, on a recurring basis, do not hesitate to consult a doctor. If the paresthesia persists, it can affect your life in a number of ways, not only as a nuisance, but as a sign of a major illness manifesting itself that needs treatment.
Most paresthesias do not need to be diagnosed, as they are not recurrent and happen naturally. However, if you have chronic paresthesia, that is, if it is present several times, in the same places and with long duration, it is good to see a doctor.
The most suitable specialists to consult when this type of problem exists are the neurologist , the orthopedist or the endocrinologist .
During the consultation, mention activities such as repetitive movements and list any type of medication you use.
The doctor will consider all of your reports to arrive at a diagnosis. It is also possible that he will perform a complete physical examination, which may include neurological, blood and other laboratory tests .
If he suspects a problem with his neck or spine, he may recommend imaging tests, such as X-rays , CT scans, or MRIs .
However, if paresthesia is present in the mouth, the correct doctor to consult is the dentist. Since the causes of oral paresthesia usually involve the medical procedures you went through, he is the one who can tell if the nerve was affected by not.
As with persistent paresthesia, you should report to the dentist what you are feeling and where you are feeling. Based on his history, he should arrive at some more accurate diagnosis. It is also possible for the dentist to order some imaging tests to check the integrity of the nerve.
Fortunately, paresthesia is curable! In cases of temporary paresthesia, it usually passes by itself and does not even need treatment. When the cases are chronic, treating the other disease that is causing paresthesia is the recommended treatment.
However, there are some cases of oral paresthesia that are irreversible , leading to permanent numbness in the mouth. These cases, it is worth remembering, are very rare and almost never happen.
Treatment, as stated earlier, will depend on how the paresthesia affects you. If it is a temporary paresthesia, one that affects most people, it goes away without much effort and does not need targeted treatment.
In cases of chronic paresthesia and oral paresthesia, treatments can become more varied and depend on the causes of the disease.
Chronic paraesthesia caused by radiculopathy
When paresthesia is caused by radiculopathy, what is sought to be treated is the cause of radiculopathy, because paresthesia presents itself as one of the symptoms of this problem. Usually, the doctor will choose non-surgical therapies, such as medication, rest and physical therapy.
However, if these therapies do not provide lasting results or for a reasonable period of time, or if there is evidence that nerve compression is causing damage to the nerve root, your doctor may recommend spine surgery .
The purpose of surgery is to relieve symptoms and prevent further damage from happening to the spinal cord by removing the cause of pressure.
But calm down! Do not panic! The type of surgery to be performed in cases of radiculopathy will depend a lot on the affected area and on the way the disease has been affecting the body. Nowadays, there are several minimally invasive techniques for spinal decompression. Everything will depend on how the disease has been affecting you.
Chronic paraesthesia caused by neuropathy
Just as in chronic paresthesia caused by radiculopathy, in that caused by neuropathy, what will be fought is the neuropathy itself instead of the paresthesia.
Treatment will depend on what is causing the neuropathy. If the main cause of the disease is, for example, autoimmune diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes , kidney problems or vitamin deficiencies, the use of some medications may be the best way to relieve the symptoms of paresthesia.
If the cause of neuropathy is a tumor or some mass tightening a nerve, the best option, as in radiculopathy, is through surgical procedures that relieve the pressure imposed on the nerve.
In oral paresthesia, in most cases, there is no need for treatment, as it disappears after some time naturally. The time for it to disappear can vary from a few weeks or even a few months, depending on the patient. So, in these cases, the best medicine is patience.
Even so, if you are experiencing any symptoms of oral paresthesia, see your dentist as soon as possible to find out the cause of the problem.
This is because more serious cases, despite being uncommon, also happen and may indicate a more worrying nerve injury. In these cases, it is necessary to have some kind of medication intervention with vitamins , or laser therapy.
Laser therapy seeks to assist in peripheral nerve regeneration, providing sensory recovery in the region suffering from numbness.
It uses a device that emits infrared laser lights, with wave and power adjustment. These waves have anti-inflammatory and biostimulating properties, which helps to cause the inflamed region to condense, in addition to making the region’s nerves start to work better.
Acupuncture is a Chinese technique that consists of applying special needles to certain regions of the body and can be used to treat a range of discomfort problems. It is a completely safe and effective technique, obtaining good results in cases of chronic paresthesia.
To do the treatment through acupuncture, it is necessary to contact a specialized professional to obtain the best possible results avoiding side effects. Treatment can often be uncomfortable, but, in general, it is quiet and painless.
The drugs used to treat paresthesia will usually attack the symptoms and not the direct cause of the disease. As its cause ranges from poorly placed anesthesia and swelling to tumors, its treatment is varied.
However, to relieve symptoms, the main drugs used are:
- Corticosteroids ;
- Vitam olefins B complex .
In addition, special formulas are also indicated. They are made in compounding pharmacies and combine some drug substance with vitamin complexes. The best formulas are those that use the B vitamins , in addition to vitamin A, lipoic acid and other substances that help to relax the nervous system and prevent hyperstimulation of the nerves.
NEVER self-medicate or stop using a medication without first consulting a doctor. Only he will be able to tell which medication, dosage and duration of treatment is the most suitable for his specific case. The information contained in this website is only intended to inform, not in any way intended to replace the guidance of a specialist or serve as a recommendation for any type of treatment. Always follow the instructions on the package insert and, if symptoms persist, seek medical or pharmaceutical advice.
In most cases of paresthesia, patience is the best way to live with the symptom. It will usually disappear on its own and should not be a cause for major concern.
However, if the paresthesia is chronic or started to happen after a surgical procedure on the mouth, it is extremely important that you consult a doctor as soon as possible so that he can assess your conditions and diagnose possible causes.
The person suffering from paresthesia normally stops feeling the symptoms naturally. In cases where paresthesia is a symptom of something bigger, once this cause is treated and cured, paresthesia also stops attacking the patient.
However, there are some cases in which paresthesia is permanent and has no cure.
The best way to prevent temporary paresthesia is not to stay in positions that put pressure on the nerves. This way, you will avoid poor blood circulation in the limbs and decrease your chances of feeling numb.
In the case of oral paresthesia, there are not many solutions. The best thing to do is talk to the dentist about the risks of the surgery and see which option is right for you.
In cases where paresthesia is caused by a major disease, such as radiculopathy or neuropathy, it is worthwhile to prevent the onset of these diseases. Some measures to be taken are:
- Eat well;
- Do physical exercises.
In addition, a valuable tip is to pay attention to the vitamins and nutrients you have been eating. Some of the substances that you can start consuming both to improve your life condition and to prevent paresthesia are:
By increasing the levels of vitamin B1, also known as thiamine, in your body, you can effectively decrease the appearance of paresthesia, as the deficiency of this nutrient is closely related to the sensation of tingling and numbness.
You can find vitamin B1 in the following foods:
- Wheat germ;
- Wheat bran;
- Chestnut of Pará;
- Cashew nut;
- Lima beans;
- White bean.
Also known as pantothenic acid, vitamin B5 helps to treat the symptoms of paresthesia without leaving any trace or adverse effects on the body. It is easily found in foods such as:
Vitamin B12 is excellent for preventing the symptoms of paresthesia, whether they are a simple tingling or a burning sensation. You can find vitamin B12 in the following foods:
- I complain;
- Tuna fish;
There are several types of food rich in inositol that can help prevent paresthesia efficiently. Combining these foods with a balanced diet can help you get rid of the problem with paresthesia.
In addition to treating paresthesia, this nutrient can help treat problems such as diabetes, panic attacks and depression . It is possible to find inositol in the following foods:
- Whole wheat;
- Wheat germ;
- Sweet potato;
Paresthesia is an uncomfortable and usually harmless symptom, however, if recurrent, it may be indicative of a major problem. Always keep an eye on your body’s signs and, whenever you think necessary, consult a doctor.
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