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Ask the Medical Expert Archives 2000-2004

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November 2003

Q. I recently started getting prickly feelings in my hands and bottoms of my feet. Sometimes I feel a sharp prick in other areas of my body too. Some people say that I should go to a chiropractor to get an adjustment because I might have a pinched nerve, but others say that the feelings in my feet are totally separate from that of my hands or other parts of the body.

Is that true? Could a pinched nerve cause prickly feelings in both my hands and feet or other areas at the same time? If not, what would cause this? The prickly feeling started in my hands and feet at the same time so I am assuming they are from the same source/cause. It doesn't get totally numb, just feels like prickling. What do you think? Is this serious?

A. These abnormal sensations fall under the medical term "paresthesias". When they occur over a period of time, the affected person usually seeks medical attention. Pain, numbness, and tingling are the common symptoms, and many causes are possible. A single pinched nerve would only cause symptoms in the area supplied by that nerve, and your symptoms are in several different areas. A physical exam may clarify the situation. Your doctor may want to order some tests to determine the location and cause of the problem.

If needed, tests might include blood tests to look for something out of balance in your metabolism, x-rays to look for problems in the spine as the nerves originate here (examples: bone malalignment, arthritis), and possibly an EMG which examines nerve conduction (example: carpal tunnel syndrome in the wrist). The treatment will depend on the results of your exam and any other tests establishing the diagnosis. A specialist in neurology can help with this evaluation if the situation persists.



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