A teenager approached his mom and told her that his legs are tingly. He said that it felt like he was getting bitten by a thousand ants. When he went to bed, he got “Charley Horses” or cramps that were so bad that he screamed for his mom. These “Charley Horses” were frequent but it didn’t occur every night. He also said that his legs get numb when he is sitting in a chair and raises them up on a stool or another chair. His mom was puzzled but didn’t think too much of it. She told him to stop whining and to take it like a man. She went on with her business and so did he. But the cramps, numbness, and that feeling of ant bites remained. What is going on? Could this be life-threatening?
For many of us, numbness and a tingly sensation along with that feeling of ant bites on our legs is a regular occurrence. We deal with it and believe that it is supposed to be there. However, for some of us who understands that something is wrong will seek the opinion of a medical professional, but since the wait time for an appointment is sometimes extensive, we simply ignore it. So, what is it and what can we do about it? First, let’s consider our age.
For a teenager, having the pre-mentioned symptoms could be a warning sign that something is or has occurred that may require immediate attention. Some questions that you could ask your teenager is “when did this start and what have you done differently? Does he play football or a contact sport that requires his body to be subjected to direct hits from another player, being thrown to the ground, flipping, being tossed, hit, punched, or kicked? Or has he been sick with a fever, sudden weight loss, weight gain, visual changes, headache, abdominal pain, back pain, problems urinating or having a bowel movement? Even more, have you noticed that his activity has changed, including his mentality? Or could this simply be related to a heat related problem?
The heat related problem is a strong possibility. However, if your teenager has engaged in extreme sports as mentioned, he may have an injury to his spinal cord. If he is sick, a possibility of a tumor exists, and it could be positioned on his spinal cord. Of course, there are a number of other possibilities, including an abdominal aneurysm but the risk factors are low for a person so young.
For an adult, having numbness, tingly, and ant bite sensation to the legs may be related to age and the years of wear and tear on the body. A strong possibility is a Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD) and diabetes. And of course, trauma is a major factor as well. So, what do we do?
Regardless of how long the appointment may take for you to see your personal doctor, make it anyway. If you feel that it cannot wait, take a trip to the emergency room. Remember that emergency rooms are sometimes full and the wait could be extensive but don’t leave. It is imperative that you see a doctor for the pre-mentioned symptoms and that test, including blood, radiology studies, and interventional test are completed. Your doctor or the emergency room doctor can tell you what those tests are. They will also tell you if they are necessary.
Another avenue to take is to call 911. Paramedics and EMT’s are highly trained and are experienced in the field of emergency medicine. The symptoms that you present is recognized immediately and you will be taken to the most appropriate hospital for your condition. On the other hand, some of us will call 911 because we feel that we can be seen quicker than those people who are waiting so patiently in the waiting room. Depending on your symptoms, vital signs and mechanism of injury (if there is one), you will be seen first. You may also be taken to the waiting room to wait your turn.
So, the feeling of numbness, tingly and a thousand ant bites sensation in your legs requires immediate attention. It must not be ignored. The consequences could be fatal if a diagnosis indicates a life-threatening condition. Your teenager’s life, as well as your own, must be a high priority and anything out of the ordinary that occurs with your body should be checked out.
Don’t wait! Listen to your body talk and tell you that something is up. Simply taking the time to find out what is going on is worth more than gold.