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Adrienne Dellwo

Fibromyalgia & Nerve Pain: Paresthesias

By May 9, 2014

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Blog Classic: September 12, 2009

It might be an odd numb spot on your back, a hand that gets tingly, or a foot that burns so bad you can't bear to take a step. Those are all nerve sensations called paresthesias, which can also make you itch or give you a crawling sensation. Paresthesia is common in those of us with fibromyalgia, and it's also associated with peripheral neuropathy, chemotherapy drugs, multiple sclerosis and migraine.

I have a lot of paresthesias, all over the place. I can't handle even the lightest touch on some spots on my back and legs, and it's not because of allodynia -- it's because of a sensation I can only describe as an intensely painful "tickle." My rheumatologist/acupuncturist was stunned at how sensitive a spot on my back was during one session; I'd jump when she got about an inch from my skin, even though I couldn't see her hand. I also have milder ones, like some numb spots on my left foot and random tingles in my hands.

Paresthesias don't seem to make sense. They're typically associated with damaged nerves, which isn't part of fibromyalgia (though it's common in some overlapping conditions.) So why do we get them? Nobody knows for sure, but 2 likely candidates, based on what we know of the condition, are:

  1. Central Sensitization: over-active central nervous system believed to be at the core of fibromyalgia.
  2. Ischemia: essentially, when a body part "falls asleep" due to low blood flow. We're all familiar with the pain of the blood returning to a foot that's asleep (call reperfusion), and some researchers believe that's behind at least some fibromyalgia pain.

When paresthesias aren't painful or disruptive, they're not something that needs treated. When they are painful, you've got several treatment options, which you can learn about in the Painful Paresthesias section of 7 Types of Fibromyalgia Pain. The doctors most likely to understand paresthesias and how to treat them are neurologists. My neurologist actually told me, "No one believes in these things except us neurologists, 'cause we see them all the time."

What kind of paresthesias do you get? Are they painful or just odd? Have you found anything that helps? Share your experience by leaving a comment below!

Learn more or join the conversation!


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September 12, 2009 at 5:52 pm
(1) Nancy A. says:

I’ve always had numbness in my left foot and a lot of pain in both feet. I also get lots of strange sensations in my legs (creepy crawly feelings, stingy, burning feelings, and restless legs. For years, I took Flexeril (a muscle relaxant) which helped a lot but I’ve been off that since I started on Lyrica two years ago. Lyrica has helped me a lot in general but I need to be on the maximum recommended dose (100 mg three times a day) to get the pain relief I need. The only problem with that is that it worsens the “fibro fog”. But I have to live with that!

Other than the medications, I haven’t tried alternative methods of pain relief like acupuncture since I’ve always been “needle phobic” but maybe I’ll give in one of these days and give it a try.

September 21, 2009 at 3:26 pm
(2) jss says:

I suffer this awful tingling pain in my wrists, forearms, and legs. If I am able, I take hot showers and hot baths as often as possible. I also use a massage hand held tool and rub across the pain for at least 10-15 minutes. I find that it does help. Also, lots of prayer!!!!

October 19, 2009 at 7:25 am
(3) Dahlia says:

In January, 2009 I slipped on some ice and slammed my left knee into the sidewalk. I’ve developed some pretty bad arthritis due to that fall.

But what I’m wondering about is, now when I wake up and take my first few steps, my whole left leg feels like it’s on fire. I’ve thought that the nerve running down the outside of my leg had been damaged in the fall. But my OS doesn’t think so.

Well, then could it be my fibromyalgia rearing its ugly head? It’s only on my left leg, above and below my knee.

November 7, 2009 at 1:27 am
(4) LEM says:

I was diagnosed with FMS in 1993. It has been progressive ever since. I was able to get myself into remission in the summer months for years with dedicated excercise and the use of 10 ml Amyitripteline at night for sleep, relaxation, pain relief and urgency issues. Added xanax a few years ago, again very small dose of 12 1/2ml (1/2 of a 25ml pill) at night or when very anxious. Both work wonderfully. Added many supplements, meal adjustments, etc. but now at 53 do not have many good days. This all began with muscle pain and fatique and now in later years is all about nerve pain and WOW! its not fun!! Just started seeing a acupunturist.(sp?). Biggest concern is if progressive, what comes after nerve damage, pain, etc.? Full disability? Still work, but for how long??? Help any info great!

May 26, 2010 at 3:47 pm
(5) Jim says:

I’m a weird case because I’m a treated male hypothyroid patient who realized very early on into my treatment that I have co morbid Chronic Fatigue Syndrome but is actually a mix of it and FMS. I had a brain MRI done a bout two years ago and was negative for apparent neuro diseases. I’ve suffered neuro type symptoms with my “syndrome” including muscle weakness and joint aches. My thyroid treatment is too well optimized to be causing these ongoing symptoms due to insufficient treatment.

Now as of late my very occassional nerve type aches have increased, so I have a neurologist appointment escheduled for late next month. I have the bruning sensation and tingles of the feel but also have stabbing pains in lots areas of my body. I for example, have a stabbing pain in my right mid-thigh area that then travels up to my side, causing an ache there and then swirling around my upper back (very weird). This causes a person to have anxiety reactions, especially at night when trying to sleep but I feel certain, despite my need to rule out another problem via a neurologist, that mine is CFS/FMS related.
All I can say is that these syndromes cause some mighty strange bodily sensations!

November 14, 2010 at 10:39 am
(6) Kyle says:

i get an excruciating burning pain on the right side of my mid-upper back. my left big toe is almost always numb as well, i plan on seeing a doctor tomorrow, but does anyone have any remedies?

January 26, 2011 at 7:56 pm
(7) Ann Marie says:

amd53 I have been battling fibro and cfs. for approx. 10 yrs. now and recently (approx.6 mo or so) i began to have bad muscle spasms/parastheisa. Lyrica is known to have these 2 side affects but does not state them on their list. I am in so much more pain than you can begin to imagine. I can hardly move at times. I was always very active and it is tiresome to be so sednetary. At the age of 50 yr my BMI was that of a 40 yr old. now God only knows. Any suggestions would be most grateful. Thank you Kindly Ann Marie

May 10, 2011 at 3:56 pm
(8) Amy says:

I started with a spot on my upper left back, relatively small area but the pain was intense. I had a burning sensation, almost like my skin had been burned. Clothing touching it, my blanket, or light touches would send me through the roof. A firmer touch would make it feel more numb than painful. Cold chills were also very painful. I was treated for shingles without a rash but it didn;t help, I took Elevil, and nuerontin..no help. It has been about 3 years since my first complaint above and I have new spots. On my left outer thigh above my knee, i have something called meralgia parthesethica. I started feeling a cold area on my leg, I would think some water was splilled on me but when you would look down it would be dry, it then turned numb and the painful burning came on. My mid to upper back, both sides has a new area that is numb, like a pin and needles feeling or a crawling sensation. It is annoying but doesn’t bother me unless I get cold, then it feels painful. My symptoms get worse after I have done too much, either physically or if i get too stressed. Starting cymbalta today and hoping for some relief.

September 2, 2011 at 10:19 pm
(9) Virginia says:

I’ve had CFS/FM for over 20 years, and nerve pain has always been part of the constellation of weird symptoms. Right now I’m experiencing nerve pain on one side of my torso and upper thigh. I just went through hurricane Irene, which was extremely stressful, and I’ve always noticed the nerve pain comes on when I’ve been stressed or when I am about to have a bad bout of unexplained fatigue. I haven’t found anything to help it.

July 9, 2012 at 8:00 pm
(10) karen says:

You all NEED to get on Gabapentin.
Its a nerve drug, generally used for epilepsy but has been found to help reduce: creepy crawlies; burning,itchy, painful skin; general awful fibro pain and possible is 1 of THE BEST drugs to take when you have fibro.
I’ve been surviving on it, (started on 300mg 4 tiimes per day, now n 300mg at night and 200mg 2 time per day) along with paracetamol, morphine and oramorph for the last 5 years.
Recently I have also been having reiki which as helped with my pain, fatigue and joint/bone aches. NO YOU DONT HAVE TO BELIEVE IN IT FOR IT TO WORK!!!!

August 10, 2012 at 8:32 pm
(11) Susan says:

I’ve been a fibro patient for nearly 40 years. My paresthesis is almost total body now and is unreal without medication. Was originally treated with Depakote and it worked ok but I gained weight. Now I take Topamax I am on a fairly high dose but weworked our way up to what was needed. It is doing a great job.

October 7, 2012 at 3:54 am
(12) Carla says:

I have not been diagnosed with anything. I believe I have fibro, but I don’t know for sure. I do have symptoms of it. I have intense pain in my legs (upper and lower) buttocks, lower back and upper arms. All it takes to cause me pain, is a simple touch…If I scratch these ares, the pain isn’t that bad. but if I rub these areas, the pain is so bad I want to cry and have on too many occasions. I also have weird sensations of weird creepy crawling things on my skin. I have numbness in my toes, my right great toe has been numb for over 10 years. My arms and hands go numb a lot as well. I have chronic lower back pain from an injury in 2006. They “said” I was suffering from a bulging disk but after 2 years of them treating it they figured out they had been wrong. I had in fact torn my sacroiliac joint. By the time they figured out they were wrong, the damage was done. I take Norco (vicodin) Zanaflex(anti-spasm) and Methadone for pain relief. These medications dont seem to do much anymore (started them during July 2006) Every time I bring these symptoms up to my Primary he doesn’t seem to hear me.

December 1, 2012 at 12:27 am
(13) Jen says:

Gabapentin! I, too, can’t stress enough to include Gabapentin (Neurontin) as part of your drug regime. I have tried just about everything over the last 12 years (including Lyrica which is part of the Gabapentin family), but nothing takes my pain down to atleast for most parts a tolerable level for once in these many, many years. I have to stress that your best is to go to a neurologist vs.a rheumotologist. I finally made this change after 10 years, and I wish I would have done it a lot sooner. The neurologist seems to have a much better understanding of what is causing this horrific pain we endure and what medications seem to work best for our symptoms. I am currently taking 600 mg. of Gabapentin a day along with Flexeril, Topamax, Ultracet and Celebrex

December 4, 2012 at 3:08 am
(14) Frances says:

I was in a robbery at my work 2 years ago. After it happened, my spine was messed up, and i started losing feeling in my right hand. There were even times when it was hurting to sit up. Two years later, and work, I have been having loads of back pain, the numbness in my right hand comes and goes. I have been taken off work. March of this year, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, as I already have epilepsy. I get more than my share of headaches, along with depression. I cannot sleep hardly any at night. Muscle relaxers have no effect on me, and pain killers make me sick, as it is like a reaction to my epileptic medicine. I am on Savella 50 mg twice a day. I also take Zoloft for my depression at night. Sometimes I am able to get a few hours sleep if I am lucky. I was prescribed Soma, it worked for a week to help me sleep, then it stopped. I pray to God for relief.

December 4, 2012 at 8:45 am
(15) Shelbie says:

Neurontin is helpful to some but isn’t a cure all, if it works..consider yourself lucky…I’ve been taking 3,300 mg per day for 4 years and still at an 8 painwise for Neuropathy in both feet…Its best to treat the underlying cause if it can be found. Still no answer to why I have it after 4 years of intense bloodwork and MRI, Postivie Auto Immune test but no diagnosis as to what its positive for. Supplements are my next suggestion, B-12 and Vit D and read about others that may help in the process, I’ve read there is alot of help with vitamins if you can ever find the right ones and stick to them a few months..I’m just now starting vitamins hoping for success myself, never hurts to try something you may be lacking anyway and relief would be a plus.

January 10, 2013 at 11:58 pm
(16) L says:

For the first time earlier today for about the whole day up until I got home and relaxed I had a numb spot on the middle left side of my back. It was totally numb when I touched it and felt almost no pain but when I didn’t touch it I felt as if most of my middle and lower back were burning while being stabbed. If someone knows and can shed some light on the subject please help. I am 17 and I just want to know how this happened to me. I will bookmark the page and check back tomorrow thank you.

April 3, 2013 at 8:25 pm
(17) Steph says:

I just read in Maximized Living Nutrition plans that neurological paresthesia can be caused to elevated blood sugar which happens when the body is bombarded with sugars and starches. In other words, it would be very helpful to get off sugary foods, soda, breads, pasta, white rice,etc. I hope this can be of some help.

May 22, 2013 at 6:21 pm
(18) jan says says:

I had a knee replacement march 2012 7 weeks after i started to get nerve pain all over body terrible pain in feet burning and like pins sticking in me pain in my back started near my shoulder blade then went all over back seeing neuro had mri on head and spine 4 mnths and still waiting for results had emg as well.Taking amitryplene 25mg had bad side effects but i got over them also have soreness in parts of body has anybody else have this driving me mad

July 9, 2013 at 6:50 pm
(19) Nyllia says:

I have no diagnosis but I do have a lot of paresthesia in different forms. The worst is a spot on my left shoulder blade. I get a annoyingly painful tingle that comes and goes about five times a day and lasts anywhere from a few minutes to half an hour. I also get numbness in my hands (especially if I am driving) and numbness in my right foot. I have chronic lower back pain ( thought to be from a previous injury) and I get a lot of chest pain. Every time I discuss any of this with my doctor He tells me I am having anxieties. My mother was recently diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and she says I have many of the same symptoms. I am currently trying to get an appointment with a different doctor for a second opinion.

July 27, 2013 at 11:31 pm
(20) Karen says:

Since fibromyalgia tends to run in families, you are wise to get a visit with the right DR. Good Luck!

August 1, 2013 at 12:32 am
(21) sheila says:

I have body wide parathesia.

Have any of you had a tremor too?

August 5, 2013 at 10:22 pm
(22) http://www.foodnetwork.com/ says:

‘ you may laugh at the infomercials, but Sham – Wow is actually a good paper towel substitute. KFC has been part of the American landscape for many many years and it really is difficult to imagine the gap in modern life that would have been created had it not been for all the special herbs and spices that have graced succulent pieces of chicken over several decades. Essentially the most important portion of frying fish is making it possible for the oil to reach the best temperature prior to including the fish.

August 6, 2013 at 8:46 pm
(23) Amanda says:

I have tingling/burning/pain over most parts of my body. My Primary Dr. seemed to hit the nail on the head when she sent me to my psychiatrist. He prescribed Celexa, Klonopin, and Seroquel. Immediately, my symptoms reduced by, I’d say, 90%. However, since that “miracle”, the symptoms have been gradually creeping back. My Primary says to re-see the psych Dr. for a tweak of meds.

August 11, 2013 at 5:07 pm
(24) free online tv says:

my family and i take great delight in your page not to mention tv thank
you for the advice

August 12, 2013 at 7:13 pm
(25) Coco says:

I get a sharp pain in the bottom right hand side of my knee. It’s only when I touch it, but when I do it feels like needles. It started one morning when I woke up and touched my two knees together, as i was getting out of bed, and I felt the worst pain I’ve ever felt,I’ve never broke a bone though, as It seems to be getting worse, I’m getting more worried. Like when I bend my knee and it’s starting to hurt when I walk. I’m not sure if this has to do with what this article is about, but I want to know why I feel this or if I should go to a doctor.

August 13, 2013 at 5:00 pm
(26) larette says:

I have the numbness in my face especially in my lips I don’t knw wat is wrong with me. the tingle numbness in my right leg n hands I need help but my doctor isn’t much. asleo I have bad acid reflux I am over weight.

September 15, 2013 at 1:37 am
(27) Freedom says:

i never realized how many names for pain there was. I thought it was just called fibro. I’m diagnosed with FMS, IBS, gastroparisis, GERD, RLS, hypertension, and sleeplessness…Also diagnosed paradoxal concerning medications….other things as well but those are the most important right now. ATM I have a wrist brace on my left wrist. I pulled the metal piece out of a right handed brace, taped it to my two middle fingers, imoblizing them. The pain is what you called the Knife in the Voo-Doo Doll. Love that, right? Pick up your coffee cup and try to take a sip and ZAP!!! there goes your coffee…and now you have to hunt for clean, comfortable clothes, AGAIN…or opt to throw yourself on the floor and bawl your eyes out like a little sissy girl…(i usually opt for the sissy girl stuff, then I get on with it) …in the end you still have to change. A few weeks ago I ended up in the Doc’s office with a diagnosis of Bursitis…WTH! I thought that was something my grandma got! Yesterday in the Doc’s office…stabbing ice-pick to the ear pain…ear is fine. So says the Doc. Nerve pain he says….yeah, that helps. Since I am so sensitive to meds I have not found any….any…yes ANY that work for me. But I do have to say that after the few trips to the ER because of meds, I was afraid to try again and haven’t had any for quite some time. Recently I tried Gabapentin, 100mg. Awesome drug. Helped so much in just the first 2 days…by the third day I could not stand up or walk for fear of fainting or puking. My BP was bottomed out and I was told I should have been in the ER…after the fact. Once again, that helps. Of course, I don’t take that anymore.

November 25, 2013 at 1:52 am
(28) ken says:

i get tingling amd itching that starts when i go to bed, it keeps me up for at least a couple of hoursand it is not every night but more often then it was 6 months ago. a 5mmg zannex seems to help a little , but i wonder will this turn into something else?i am 77 yrs old and in preeey good health otherwise. anyone in the same boat?

February 23, 2014 at 6:22 pm
(29) gift says:

I ve been body aches,pins and needles for a month now?pls any help of the drugs I can take

April 22, 2014 at 3:54 pm
(30) L.wyatt says:

I am in tears right now because I have all these symptoms and was lost
and didn’t know what was wrong with me. and this answered it all.

May 9, 2014 at 3:42 pm
(31) Abot Bensussen says:

Yes, I am so lucky to have all of the above symptoms, even the tremors, sometimes a twitch where my head goes over to one side quickly. My voice, too, is affected. It trembles and sounds like I’m 90 at least.

The P.N. is always the worst and Lyrica is helping with this in both feet. Yes, hands go numb when driving, drinking tea, just about for any reason at all.

Now my insurance co., Humana, has my appeal working for them to pay for Xyrem, a med I’ve been using for sleep for the last 8 years. It’s way too expensive for most anyone to pay for without insurance cooperating. Around $6,ooo and more a month. Who has that kind of money? Only the 1% I think.

My sleep dr. is doing all he can, he says. I am also trying to cutdown my use of Oxycodone, because he is worried about my breathing at night. So I’m out of my usual regime and uncomfortable about this. Waking up is so much harder to do! Without my evening Oxy.

Sleep Dr. is giving me another sleep study and we all hate being wired up in a strange room with techs watching us sleep. Miss my dog, my TV, and my old husband. If only Humana starts paying for my Xyrem again, I promise not to complain so much. Thanks, and feel better, Abby

May 9, 2014 at 4:52 pm
(32) Sarah says:

I had a lot of parathesias after my diagnosis of FM. Not until they loaded me up on all sorts of SSRI medications. Prozac for depression, first Cymbalta and then Lyrica for FM and Ultram for pain. Ultram is not an SSRI but affects it. When taken together with SSRI there is a synergistic effect.
The end result was that I developed serotonin syndrome, something that can be lethal if not caught early. I had to diagnosis it myself after much research.

Once I weaned myself off the SSRIs, not a pretty process, I stopped having parathesias. I also started experiencing less FM pain when I included yoga as my exercise regimen. Gently at all times.

So, if you are taking more than one SSRI medication, parathesias may be your first sign that you are headed for serotonin syndrome.

May 9, 2014 at 6:14 pm
(33) Gail says:

I have all the weird pains, tingles, and phantom sensations. Gabapentin has been very effective for all the pins and needles and numbness. However, lately, even at 2100 mg a day I am having breakthrough symptoms. I wonder if it has an efficacy period that wears off over time? I’ve been taking it for about 4 years. Has anyone else had this issue? Getting an MRI next week to rule out MS.

May 9, 2014 at 9:04 pm
(34) Meg K says:

It’s really helpful to read all these comments. I, too, have parasthesias. It feels like buzzing or pins and needles or v
Creepy crawlies. I have it from the tips of my toes and particularly in my calves but now it extends up to my upper thighs. My calves are the worst. I have excruciating pain on the inner sides of my calves from ankle to knee. I feel like it is getting worse over time. I also have it in my hands and lower arms. I take neurontin and it seems to help somewhat. I had a skin biopsy recently but it was negative for peripheral neuropathy. MRI was also normal. This is the what drives me crazy about FM because every single cotton pickin test is negative so nothing seems “real” or validated. Interesting the comments above about SSRIs. I first had my symptoms after beginning to take an SSRI several years ago. I now take Cymbalta but the symptoms have never left. Psychiatrist said parasthesias are not a side effect of SSRIs. I doubt this.

May 9, 2014 at 11:36 pm
(35) Gina says:

I have MS and take close to 20 drugs per day with 3 injections weekly and I have found nothing helps my pain better than medical marijuana. I can take my Vicodin and get minimal relief or I can take 1-2 hits and get complete relief. Oh and did I saw that complete relief is within the first minute to 2? If you haven’t tried it, I recommend that you do.

May 10, 2014 at 4:28 pm
(36) claire says:

shaving my legs omg i can not shave my legs very often the pain is so intense, i also have pain in my feet sometimes its like some smacked the bottom of my feet with a baseball bate cant walk on them the pain is so intense.

May 12, 2014 at 7:09 am
(37) Richard parry says:

I am having tests on my condition have no idea what it is so would like feedback I am 45 year old man and work on contruction site about 3 months ago I got a strange pins and needles numbness in my soles of feet I had blood tests witch came back all ok then went to see nuerolagist he checked me over and said he couldn’t see anything, I then had nrerve tests which came back ok and mri on my lower back witch came back ok , this over a six week time I was prescribed amitriptoline witch help you sleep it thwn changed to a creepy feeling with cold spots up to my waste I saw him again and am now waiting for lumber punch and further blood tests am back at work but very uncomfortable I get up feeling not to bad but by the time I get to work I get this creeping horid feeling any one got this ?

May 12, 2014 at 10:57 am
(38) jackie says:

hi all–like all of you I too,have tried many meds–Lyrica,has been a life saver for me–I tried it to deal with the pain of interstitial cystitis which I had before fibro and chronic fatigue–and low and behold it helped with bladder pain as well as the fibro pain—when pain does get out of control as it does sometimes I have methadone for those days–I only use the pain med on days that I just can’t deal with the pain–and I try to make that minimal so that they don’t lose their efficacy–I do this through a pain specialist who is also a neurologist–but, I know that what helps me may not help someone else–good luck to all on this confusing and painful journey

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