Why is my father feeling a weird sensation in his leg after a major stroke?

A fellow caregiver asked...


My father had a stroke (major haemorrhage) 18 months ago and had paralysis down the left side of his body. He is now walking again but last night he had a weird sensation inside (not outside) his left leg which he described as feeling like shaking inside his left leg, pins and needles inside his left leg, nerves jumping and running up and down inside his left leg which lasted for 2 hours. It was not painful but irritating and it frightened him because he was worried it was another stroke coming on but after 2 hours it went away so he did not call the ambulance. This has happened twice in the last month and never before these two times. Can you tell me what this is and what to do about it?

Thanks for the help, it is much appreciated.

Regards Sandra

Expert Answer

James Castle, M.D. is a neurologist at NorthShore University HealthSystem (affiliated with The University of Chicago) and an expert on strokes.

This is a fairly common problem after a hemorrhagic stroke. The brain often "makes up" sensations when there is a problem in the regular sensory wiring coming from the arms and legs to the brain. People often describe numbing, burning, pins and needles, or a general sense of discomfort. Often, it starts long after the stroke. It is completely benign, but I would recommend getting at least one repeat image to make sure that there is no new problem in the brain itself.

Often times, no treatment is needed, and the patient simply needs assurance that nothing dangerous is happening. If the sensations are too bothersome, and a treatment is needed, I typically recommend a low dose medication. Options include gabapentin, amitriptyline, or nortriptyline. More expensive alternatives include pregabalin and duloxetine. Non-medical options include warm baths, accupuncture, or massage.

I hope this helps.