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Pins and needles
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Pins and needles

My 19 year old daughter has been complaining of pins and needles in her hands and to a lesser extent, her feet, for the past week.

This was accompanied by a "prickly heat" type rash on her hands and more so on her feet on 4-6 days of the pins and needles. The rash has now subsided but the pins and needles in her hands remain.

Her temperature has been very slightly raised but otherwise she is feeling okay.

She has a lot of problems with tension in her upper back and she has been told by her osteopath that her breathing is very shallow. She is generally quite anxious and has displayed OCD behaviours when under stress due to exams (she is a straight A* student)

In the past few weeks, she has had problems with a verucca on her foot that had been treated by a chiropodist and she developed a very painful, large fluid filled blister. She was given a course of Flucoxocillin which she finished 2 days before the pins and needles started.

I took her to the emergency doctor who diagnosed a virus without even examining her!

Naturally as a mother, I am imagining all kinds of things including MS and a tumor. I intend to take her to another doctor this week but I am also taking her to the osteopath tomorrow to see if the pins and needles are alleviated by freeing up her upper back.

I would appreciate your thoughts. I don't want to cause her any more stress by over-reacting but she is starting to get quite anxious herself.

Thank you

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Nothing about what you told me sounds suggestive of either a tumor or MS or even of a primarliy neurological disease.  I have a couple suspicions.

1) The abnormal sensations sound possibly like a low-level allergic reaction to something - very possibly the penicillin-derivative antibiotic.  I have seen this kind of reaction, just on the hands and feet many times and low-grade hives can show up as a blotchy rash without the wheals of classic hives.  The skin reactions in drug allergy can last many days and sometimes weeks after the medication is stopped. Just a thought.

2) When treating a wart with either chemical or freezing (is this what they did?) You have to really "burn" the wart to get all the way to it's root.  Big warts (verrucae) on the foot go very deep.  The chiropodist should have told you to expect a large, fluid filled blister and how to care for it.  Sometimes we burn a little too vigorously and the burn is more than we wanted.  It's not an exact science.  sorry!

3) Type A, high achieving, anxious people and the rest of us often tie up our anxiety in our upper backs and necks.  She needs to learn stretching exercises, relaxation techniques and good posture to help her deal with this.  Manipulation is fine, but prevention is better.  Massage is great.

4) Most people of western cultures breathe too shallowly.  It's the norm in our society.  Breathing/relaxation/meditation practice would likely benefit your daughter.  We all need to remind ourselves periodically to relax and BREATHE.  The more we are aware of it the more we will begin to breathe more deeply and more naturally.  It is not a disorder of the back, but of tension.

She also may have a little virus.  By the way, did she have any sores in her mouth?

Tingling in both feet and both hands would be a VERY unusual symptom of MS which more typically has it's initial attacks unilaterally.

Does this help?

Quix (retired pediatrician, post-doc work in allergy)
Thank you so much for taking the time to reply to my question. I do feel much better having read your answer.

My daughter did suffer from very troublesome uticaria a couple of times when she was much younger (all over her body and face.) She also has a little bit of eczema and quite bad dermatitis on the back of her neck, which we assume is a reaction to the costume jewellery she was wearing. She has hay fever and has suffered with migraines in the past (these have stopped since she eliminated dairy products and chocolate from her diet.) I guess these all point to the fact that she does have allergic tendencies (if there are such a thing!) I myself am a chronic asthma and rhinitis sufferer and allergic to sulphonomides (although not penicillin.)

I almost forgot, she also had warts all around her finger nails for a couple of years. These cleared up about 12-18 months ago.

We went to the osteopath this afternoon and she couldn't find any obvious reason for the pins and needles. My daughter is still a bit 'out of sorts' - tired and pale, so perhaps she does have a low grade virus. She didn't have any sores in her mouth - a pharmacist colleague was checking for these as well. Would they point to something (hand, foot and mouth virus?)

We have made an appointment to see her GP next week and I will also try to get her back to the yoga class if possible.

Many thanks, I will sleep easier tonight.


P.S. The chiropodist did warn us about the likely reaction to the chemicals he was using on her foot but he didn't warn us how bad it was going to be! We went to the hospital on a Saturday night when he wasn't available and a nurse practitioner diagnosed an infection. The chiropodist didn't believe that it was infected and cut the blister away the following week. It has now healed up (although I think the verucca's still there annoyingly!)

Absolutely there is an "allergic tendency."  It's called "atopy", runs very strongly in families and is made up of any or all of the following "atopic dematitits, also known as eczema, allergic rhinitis, (hay fever), allergic eyes, asthma and very sensitive skin.  You guys have it all!  

You're right, I was thinking Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease, a, very mild viral illness caused by certain types of the Coxsackie virus occurring mostly in the spring.  Periodic HUGE outbreaks are common.  When I worked in the Indian Health Service, one spring we saw over 200 cases in just a couple weeks. Babies also can get the rash on the bum.  The mouth sores aren't required for diagnosis during an outbreak.

Hope for the best, the wart may still give it up.  If it is injured enough by the treatment it may still just fall out or involute and disappear.

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