A creepy, crawling sensation in the skin, perhaps with a prickling or burning feeling, is called paresthesia. Generally, the sensation pops up in the arms, legs, hands and feet, but it can occur elsewhere in the body. If you fall asleep lying on your arm, or another body part, you may experience a pins and needles sensation upon awakening because you have put sustained pressure on a nerve. This is called temporary paresthesia because it quickly goes abates.
The crawling sensations can also be caused if you are suffering from what is called a nerve entrapment syndrome, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, resulting in damage to the peripheral nerves. In addition to producing the crawling sensations, you may also experience pain if you have peripheral nerve damage.
Those who have suffered a stroke, encephalitis, transverse myelitis and/or multiple sclerosis can also experience paresthesia. If a tumor or vascular lesion is present and is pressing against your spinal cord or brain, paresthesia may result, according to the National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Strokes. Parasthesia is considered a chronic condition when it is caused by an underlying condition such as nerve damage or a neurological disease.
Celiac disease can result in the crawling sensations, according to Cureresearch.com. This is a digestive disease that results in damage to the small intestine. This disease, which is considered an auto-immune disease, interferes with the assimilation of nutrients from food. Those who have this condition cannot eat gluten, a protein, which is found in barley, rye, wheat and sometimes oats. When this condition is present, a person’s legs will tingle, and the crawling sensations may occur due to nerve damage.
The Outcome of Diabetes
Diabetic peripheral neuropathy is one of the most common causes of parasthesia. When an individual has this condition, nerve damage occurs in the feet, toes and sometimes in the hands. The most common symptoms of diabetic peripheral neuropathy include prickling, tingling and burning sensations, cramps, sharp pains, insensitivity to temperature or pain or complete numbness. Nerves on both sides of the body can become damaged. The symptoms may be worse at night.
How Neuropathy Occurs
The damage occurs to the nerves when blood sugar levels remain too high for too long. The covering on the blood vessels that transport oxygen to your nerves can become damaged as can the covering on your nerves. When a nerve is damaged, it may stop sending messages throughout the body or it may send the wrong message or send it too slowly, according to the National Institutes of Health.