What Do You Mean By Pins And Needles Sensation?

Every once in a while we notice something what is called as a pins and needles sensation which is a sensation of something pricking or tingling normally in the hands or feet. In medical terminology this sensation is called as paresthesia. In vague terms, the affected limb is said to have fallen asleep. The most common cause of pins and needles sensation is lying on the affected limb for a long period of time thus compressing the nerves of the limb and reducing the blood supply to the area. Once the pressure is released the pins and needle sensation goes away. There are cases in which pins and needle sensation is very frequent and is caused by some nerve damage due to certain disorders of the nervous system. In such cases consultation with a physician is required.


What Can Cause Pins And Needles Sensation?

What Can Cause Pins And Needles Sensation?

During incidences when the nerve is compressed, the arteries which supply blood to the nerve also get compressed along with it which causes the nerve to cease to function due to lack of supply of blood. This causes the limb to fall asleep or causing a pins and needle sensation. This is most common seen in people who are wheelchair bound and are not able to move their legs all the time. As soon as the blood supply is restored by reliving the pressure off of the nerve and arteries the nerves starts to function again thus reliving the sensation. The limb may feel a little uncomfortable for a few minutes but then normalcy returns. There can be numerous causes of a pins and needles sensation which includes:


  • Undue pressure on nerves usually causes pins and needle sensation
  • Decreased blood supply to the nerves can cause causes pins and needle sensation
  • Injury to the nerves
  • Hyperventilation
  • Toxic effects of alcohol on the nerves
  • Certain classes of medications are known to cause pins and needle sensation
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Transient Ischemic Attack
  • Stroke.

Medical Conditions That Can Cause Pins And Needles Sensation

Some of the conditions which can cause Pins and Needles Sensation or paresthesia are:

Pins And Needles Sensation Due to Undue Pressure on the Nerves: The function of the peripheral nerves is to send information to and from the brain and spinal cord. If the limb is in an awkward position then the nerves get compressed thus affecting the communication between the brain and the affected limb. This causes the nerve to stop functioning. Once pressure is released from the nerves, normal function of the nerves return and the pins and needles sensation is relieved.


Pins And Needles Sensation Caused By Pinched Nerve: Pins and Needles sensation can also be caused due to a pinched nerve. The most common condition in which the nerve gets pinched is carpal tunnel syndrome in which the median nerve of the wrist gets pinched or compressed resulting in Pins and Needles sensation over the wrist. There is also pain and weakness associated with the pins and needles sensation.

Pins And Needles Sensation Caused Due To Cervical Nerve Root Irritation: The nerves in the neck come out of the spinal cord through small holes called vertebrae. These vertebrae can get stenosed due to inflammation, injury, or development of bone spurs thus causing the nerves to get compressed resulting in Pins and Needles sensation.

Pins And Needles Sensation Due To Sciatica: This is a medical condition in which the sciatic nerve gets compressed by a protruding or a bulging disc resulting in Pins and Needles sensations.

Pins And Needles Sensation Due To Neuritis: This is a medical condition in which there is inflammation of the nerves. This inflammation can be caused due to alcohol abuse, medical condition like Guillain-Barre syndrome or pernicious anemia.

Nerve Diseases: Also called as neuropathy this is generally caused due to diabetes mellitus and damages the sensory nerves causing Pins and needles sensation.

Some of the other conditions that may cause Pins and Needles sensation are:

Which Are The Usual Locations Of Pins And Needles Sensation?

The pins and needles sensations are usually are felt in the hands and the feet. There will be initially some numbness and heaviness of the affected limbs. There is also pricking and tingling sensation of the skin surface. Normal sensation returns once the position of the limb is changed after some initial discomfort.

How Is Pins And Needles Sensation Treated?

The treatment for Pins and Needles sensation depends on the cause of it. If the Pins and Needles sensation is caused due to carpal tunnel syndrome then carpal tunnel release is required for relief from the symptom along with splinting, braces, and giving rest to the wrist. Physical therapy may be done for treating pins and needles sensation caused due to a pinched nerve due to a bulging or protruding discs. Sometimes a surgery may also be done to relieve symptoms of pins and needles sensation. The best way to cut down symptoms of pins and needles sensation caused due to neuropathy due to diabetes is to have good control of blood sugars. Abstaining from alcohol is absolutely necessary to get rid of Pins and Needles sensation.

When Should One Worry Or Consult A Doctor For Pins And Needles Sensation?

Pins and Needles sensation usually is a benign condition and caused due to inappropriate positioning of the hands or legs but in some cases it may also be caused due to nerve damage especially if the individual is a diabetic. Hence in such cases a consultation is required by a physician especially if the pins and needles sensation is quite frequent. If carpal tunnel syndrome is diagnosed then adequate rest of the wrist is required along with splinting and in some cases carpal tunnel release surgery for relief of symptoms of Pins and Needles Sensation.

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:


Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: March 19, 2019

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer


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