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Tingling in Arms and Legs

Nicks J Jan 22, 2019
Tingling in arms and legs primarily occurs due to nerve damage. However, interference in normal blood circulation in the extremities can also cause this problem.

Did You Know?

Motor nerves provide sensation and regulate movement of muscles. Their proper working is crucial for swallowing food and doing activities like walking or any other form of exercise.
Tingling in arms and legs is defined as an abnormal sensation similar to that of needles and pins pricking the skin. This unusual feeling can occur anytime, even at night, and disturb normal sleep.
Tingling might remain constant or come and go throughout the day. The pain associated with tingling in legs can make activities like walking, uncomfortable to perform.

Reasons for Prickly Burning Sensation in Arms and Legs

People affected with shingles infection or carpal and tarsal tunnel syndrome may also complain about this unusual sensation in the hands and legs. Other causes are given here:

Peripheral Neuropathy

In peripheral neuropathy, damage to the nerves, located in the arms and legs is observed. As sensory nerves are also damaged, it can also cause numbness in arms and legs. Many times, this unusual sensation in arms can interfere with normal sleeping patterns.
Trauma such as accidents, certain medicines (chemotherapy drugs), exposure to toxic materials, are some of the factors that cause peripheral nerve damage. Uncontrolled diabetes and even diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, can bring peripheral neuropathy.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency

If your diet is not providing you adequate vitamin B12, you face an increased risk of nerve damage. As we all know, the nerves relay electrical signals from the brain. Some of these nerves supply sensation to the arms and legs. The importance of vitamin B12 can be gauged from the fact that, it plays a crucial role to keep myelin sheath healthy.
The myelin sheath is an outer coating of the nerves that ensures quick transmission of electrical signals through these pathways (nerves). Vitamin B12 inadequacy means the well-being of myelin sheath is in trouble.
Thus, persistent low vitamin B12 levels can damage and even erode the myelin sheath. Nerves with damaged myelin sheath are unable to carry signals properly, triggering unusual sensation in affected part of the body.


Inadequate supply to a specific portion of the brain is the hallmark of a stroke. The reduced blood flow can disturb the normal electrical activity in the brain. As a result, the nerve cells in the brain are unable to transmit and receive electrical signals that promote movement and allow us to interpret sensation.
No wonder, the initial symptoms of stroke often manifest in the form of numbness or tingling sensation in the face, arms and legs.

Thyroid Problems

People with thyroid problems such as hypothyroidism that is typically characterized by low production of thyroid hormones may also complain about 'pins and needle' sensation in the arms and legs.
The thyroid gland situated in the frontal neck area produces two hormones, thyroxine and triiodothyronine that maintain body temperature and normal metabolic rate. Deficiency of these hormones can lead to wide range of symptoms including weight gain, constipation, fatigue and tingling of feet and hands.


Too much alcohol consumption can also have a negative impact on nerve function. In simple words, the possibility of nerve impairment from excess alcohol consumption looms large. This condition is known as alcoholic neuropathy in which the peripheral nerves are damaged the most.
Alcohol abuse can be toxic to the peripheral nerves, causing irreparable damage to the nerve cells. Muscle weakness and cramps, numbness and painful feeling in the arms and legs are commonly associated with alcoholic neuropathy.

Insect Bites

A spider bite or a sting from bees and wasps on the arms or legs can also cause tingling or burning feeling that is usually confined around the bite location. An insect bite after you have fallen asleep may not necessarily wake you up. However, upon getting up in the morning, you are likely to experience that unusual sensation around the site of bite.

Compromised Blood Flow

When leg arteries are partially blocked due to build up of cholesterol, normal blood flow to the leg is disrupted. Blockage of leg arteries is an indication of lower extremity arterial disease, in which the inner lining of the artery wall becomes thick and rough.
Over time, the arteries harden and become narrow, causing circulation problems in the extremities. Decreased blood flow will ultimately trigger pain and tingling in arms and legs while walking.
Circulation problems can also occur when the arms or legs are subjected to undue pressure for prolonged periods of time. For instance, legs or arms remaining under heavy load for even a short time can interfere with normal blood circulation and lead to unusual sensation in arms and legs.
Resting in an awkward position is one of the common reasons that cause blood flow disturbance in legs and arms.


The sciatic nerve travels from spinal cord, passes through the hip and buttock area and finally terminates in lower part of the leg. Any health problem such as herniated disk or spondylolisthesis that causes compression or irritation in any portion of the sciatic nerve, may lead to back pain that is commonly accompanied by painful feeling in arms and legs.


Fibromyalgia is a medical condition that is typically marked by fatigue and joint stiffness. People with fibromyalgia experience pain and tingling sensation in the muscles and ligaments, which is not localized and can affect multiple sites on the body. Although old people are at increased risk of fibromyalgia, physical trauma can also trigger this disorder.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

MS is a condition in which the infection fighting cells of the immune system damage the protective covering of the nerves, thus causing a decline in the functioning of the nerve. If the nerve in the legs and arms are affected, obviously it can cause pain in these body parts.
Appropriate treatment after diagnosing the reason behind the occurrence of this unusual pain has to be taken into consideration, so as to prevent it from worsening. For instance, multiple sclerosis patients are often advised to start a regular exercise routine and are given corticosteroids to reduce pain in the extremities.
Disclaimer: The information provided is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.