Limbs that have fallen asleep: blood congestion or nerve matter?

After a long, uncomfortable period of lying or sitting awkwardly – for example with your legs crossed or cross-legged – you may hear a foot or an arm that has fallen asleep.  Usually, all people react to this symptom in the same way: they shake the affected body part and rub the tingling area. A few minutes are usually enough for normal sensations to return. In rare cases it can even take up to an hour.

But where does this numb feeling come from?

The numb feeling or furry tingling in feet, arms or hands  has nothing to do with pinched blood vessels  – as is often wrongly assumed. Instead, it is bundles of nerves that are disturbed in their conduction. Stimuli that are routed from the affected limbs to the brain via these bundles of nerves arrive there in a distorted way, which leads to the discomfort.

If this phenomenon rarely occurs, it helps to check your own sitting, standing and lying habits. Don’t stay in one position for too long and move around from time to time. If you suffer from the symptoms described more frequently and for no apparent reason, the problem could have more serious causes (the spinal column may be involved), which you should definitely have clarified by a doctor.

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