Migraine Symptoms: Numbness, Paralysis, Pins and Needles

Written by Jessica Puterbaugh | July 30, 2022

People with migraine may experience numbness, paralysis, and/or pins and needles. This usually occurs during the aura phase and can be a warning that an attack is coming. These symptoms are common for those with hemiplegic migraine, a rare type of migraine with aura that causes weakness or paralysis on one side of the body. Experiencing numbness, paralysis, and/or pins and needles can be alarming as these often resemble symptoms of other more serious conditions, such as stroke.

What Do These Symptoms Feel Like?

People with migraine may feel part of their body or limbs go numb. They may have pins and needles moving from their hand up their arm, and may also feel a prickly sensation or numbness in the face, lips and tongue. These symptoms can be experienced along with other aura symptoms, such as visual and speech disturbances, and confusion. These symptoms can last hours, days or even weeks. For those with hemiplegic migraine, paralysis can be quite severe and completely incapacitating. These symptoms are typically felt on the same side as the proceeding head pain.

Managing the Symptoms

Standard migraine medications may help treat these symptoms, as can maintaining healthy lifestyle habits such as:

  • Prioritizing sleep
  • Managing stress
  • Avoiding triggers
  • Getting moderate exercise
  • Staying hydrated and eating a well-balanced diet

Check out the migraine treatment toolbox for more.

It’s important to discuss these symptoms with a doctor to rule out other more serious conditions such as stroke, multiple sclerosis, and nerve/spinal cord damage. Experiencing numbness, tingling or paralysis along with head pain that is more intense or uncharacteristic, or with garbled speech and/or the inability to communicate, may require urgent medical care—especially if these symptoms are new.

SNOOP Acronym

Remembering the SNOOP acronym can help identify red flags when it comes to migraine symptoms:

S: systemic symptoms (fever, weight loss)

N: neurologic symptoms or abnormal signs (confusion, impaired consciousness)

O: onset is sudden or abrupt

O: onset after age of 50 of new and progressive headache

P: pattern change (change in severity, frequency or features)

Tell us! Do you experience numbness, tingling, paralysis, and/or pins and needles with your migraine? Do you have any tips for how to manage this difficult set of symptoms?

1 Comment

  1. Dabhaidh on March 9, 2024 at 1:59 pm

    The feeling that someone is tickling a patch of your head, on one side. (Sort of a ‘pins-n-needles’ sensation.)

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