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burning sensation in legs and pins and needles sensation in hands/fingers

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    burning sensation in legs and pins and needles sensation in hands/fingers

    Can anyone tell me if they experienced a burning sensation in your legs or butt and/or a pins and needles sensation in your hands and fingers? What does this mean? My stepson, Todd, has an incomplete SCI C5 which occurred about 5 months ago. He is telling us he has these feelings. What does this mean? Is this a normal part of the recovery after injury? Does it mean nerve endings are trying to make a connection somehow? Todd has had feeling below his level of injury, since his accident. Apparently, this is a newer sensation he feels.

    He asked me to post this question on this forum. So, thank you in advance to any knowledge you can share with us. I will be sure to pass this on to Todd.

    Todd was injured in Hawaii and was in rehab there thru the end of May and now he is in Baylor Rehab in Dallas until sometime in July.

    Thanks for your help,


    Jan, it seems what Todd is feeling is fairly common and from what I've read the tingling could be a sign of recovery or it could be just tingling -- everyone is different. Some people continue to get return for several years after their injury and some get none. The burning sensation sounds more like neuropathic pain. My spouse describes it as feeling like someone put knee high boots on him, laced them as tight as possible and then set them on fire. He takes neurontin for this. I'm certainly no expert, but if you run a search on this site on both tingling and neuropathic pain, you'll find a wealth of information very quickly. The search button is on the top right of the window.

    I hope in Tod's case this is a sign of return and he continues to improve!


      My hands and fingers had strange sensations for several months after injury. They later regained full sensation. I have the burning in my feet. It's awful. I know this is neuropathic pain. For me it didn't develop until two years aftr injury. It's pretty frustrating. As your son continues to recover these symptoms could go away. His sensation could continue to improve for a long time. Withn the first two years of injury it's really hard to predict.

      ~See you at the SCIWire-used-to-be-paralyzed Reunion ~
      ~See you at the CareCure-used-to-be-paralyzed Reunion ~


        I get the tingling sensation you describe in my legs and butt. It can be uncomfortable at times but 95% of the time I don't notice it. My consultant told me that it was the broken nerve endings 'sparking'. The spinal cord still sends messages up and down the cord but they don't reach the other end they just fizzle out, a bit like if a live electric wire was cut, the ends would spark. This is what causes the burning sensation.

        At 5 months, especially if he is incomplete, your step-son could still gain some sensation or function, the key is never give up hope but try to be realistic as well. I'm 2 1/2 years post and still hope, and if nothing comes, I hope that the cure is just round the corner.

        Good luck and keep in touch!


          I call them the burning tingles

          Since your stepson is still a newbie his burning and tingling (I liken it to the sensation you get when you are getting sensation back after your hand has gone to sleep) may mean he is getting some return. There has been a lot of postings on this subject usually in the pain forum. Doing a search using "burning" and "tingling" will bring up a lot of these posts.

          If they are really bothersome have him talk to his physical medicine doctor or his neurologist about trying some of the proven methods for controling it. A few suggested methods are neurontin and several tricyclic antidepressant (in small doses). Be sure your phys med MD and Neurologist are certified in the Spinal Cord Injury field.

          Lastly, try and get your son to read and post on the website instead of you doing it for him. It will be great therapy if he is getting some return in his arms and hands. If it too difficult for him then get him some voice recognition software. We have lots of quads here who post regularly and they can help and guide him through this.

          "And so it begins."
          "And so it begins."


            I've got those sensations, along with others. Turned out to be just part of my central pain syndrome, and not indicative of any return in my case. His mileage may vary.

            Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.


              Hey Jan, it's jim. Glad Todd made it home and is doing well.

              I have had burning pain since a few months post injury. The thing that works best for me is exercising and being very active. It's almost impossible to forget about the pain if you are just sitting around doing nothing, which I did fo a while [img]/forum/images/smilies/smile.gif[/img]

              Keep us updated on Todd's progress.

              ... [img]/forum/images/smilies/smile.gif[/img]...


                Tingling sensation

                I'm a T/12-L/1 incomplete para and it's been 15 years for me. I've had those pins and needles feelings from the very beginning and they've never let up. If I think about wiggling my toes, the tingling actually intensifies, and it feels like my toes are moving, but of course they're not. I did have burning pains in my back way back then,but that's completely gone now. My right leg is extrememly sensitive. I don't know what the cause of the pain is, but it feels like electric current going through it or something. Sometimes it feels like tiny little razor blades are slashing my leg. I don't know what the cause is or if it will ever stop, but it is painful. When I was in rehab, 15 years ago, I was told that the pain would never go away, but I would learn to tolerate it.

                I hope things improve for Todd.


                  Hi, Jan,

                  Glad to hear Todd is in Dallas with all of you. Matt had -and still has - tingles in his hands and feet and legs, especially when he's touched. He says it doesn't hurt, just feels weird. Keep in touch with Todd's progress, and do encourage Todd to join the forums!

                  Tough times don't last - tough people do.


                    Neuropathic Pain

                    That's the big words for the condition your describe. Damaged but still living nerve cells in Todd's spinal cord are trying to regrow the "axon" the long connecting fiber that used to extend all the way to the hands or feet or buttocks or whatever part of the body. They grow very slowly at the rate of about 1 millimeter per year. They also become electrically unstable and generate nerve signals spontaneously. This firing is perceived as burning, stinging, pins and needles kinds of sensations.

                    Unfortunately, these feeling often do not go away. The can even intensify. Sometimes they are worsened by other problems going on in the body. For example, I have patients who get increased pain when they have a bladder infection. Psychological stress can make them worse and make them harder to endure.

                    There are medications that can make them less intense--the classes of medications include anti-seizure medications (Neurontin, gabapentin is probably the most effective in this bunch), older antidepressant medications is fairly low doses (tricyclics) and narcotic pain medications (like methadone and morphine).

                    It is nearly impossible to make these sensations go away completely. The goal is to make them bearable so that a person can go about the business of having a life.

                    It's one of the saddest side effects of having a spinal cord injury.

                    Sorry for the gloomy news.
                    The SCI-Nurses are advanced practice nurses specializing in SCI/D care. They are available to answer questions, provide education, and make suggestions which you should always discuss with your physician/primary health care provider before implementing. Medical diagnosis is not provided, nor do the SCI-Nurses provide nursing or medical care through their responses on the CareCure forums.


                      Same experience

                      here as C6-7. I've decided to forgoe any meds though because they made me more spacey than I am currently. [img]/forum/images/smilies/wink.gif[/img]

                      My approach now is that I perceive pain as a weakness leaving my body. Works for me but its tough minute by minute.

                      Good luck to you and your son.

                      Onward and Upward!