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What Causes the Pins and Needles Feeling?

pins-needles-trapped-nerve-symptom

That Weird, Tingly Feeling

Pins and needles are those funny feelings which I think we can all relate to having had at one time or another.

You wake up and your hand has gone numb. You get a warm prickly feeling in your fingers as the feeling in the fingers slowly comes back alive. This funny feeling can either be funny or it may make you feel concerned about what is happening to you.

In the following article I am going to look into what are the symptom of pins and needles, reasons for getting pins and needles in your arms, hands, legs or feet and lastly how to get rid of pins and needles feeling.

Got That Pins and Needles Feeling?

First thing to know is that pins and needles are only a symptom of a nerve being pinched. The warm tingle feeling you are experiencing is not a disease or condition in itself, but the symptom of one.

By the way the medical term for pins and needles is paraesthesia.

Symptoms of Parathesia

Here is a list of some common ways people explain having a paraesthesia. Sometimes other symptoms of a compressed nerve can accompany the pins and needles feeling.

This could include these symptoms:

  • Numbness,
  • Hot/Cold sensation,
  • Prickling,
  • Sharp pain,
  • Weakness,
  • Skin colour changes.

The above are all just some of the ways people experience pins and needles. It is more important to know what actually is the source of the prickly feeling in the first place, so what causing it.

Common Causes of Pins and Needles

As I mentioned above, finding out what is causing the pins and needles feeling in the first place is the most important. To understand what to do to get rid of the abnormal sensation occurring either in your arms, hands, legs or feet you need to know what is wrong with you.

Paraesthesia occurs when the nerve supplying an area of the body is not able to transmit normal signals back to the brain.

You can then end up with this weird, strange funny sensation.

This feeling can happen in your arm, hand, fingers, leg, thigh, calf, foot or toes, even your face. Really, anywhere there is a nerve supplying skin you can get pins and needles. So that is nearly every where in your body.

You could be asking “Why might the nerve not be able to send a healthy signal back to the brain?” The reason could be a problem with either the nerve itself or the blood vessel supplying the nerve.

#1 Problem with the Nerve

Nerves need a good blood supply to stay healthy. This is why big major nerves usually run with a big blood vessel.

Our nerves also have a coating over them, acting like a protective blanket, called a myelin sheath.

Myelin is the stuff on nerves that is attacked when people suffer neurological conditions like multiple sclerosis and Guillain-Barré Syndrome. These neurological conditions are the more serious causes for concern that can cause paraesthesia.

Thankfully most pins and needles sensations are temporary. They tend to occur when we put some temporary pressure on a nerve.

Think of your hand going dead or your foot going to sleep when you have been in one position for a long time. This could be, for example, sitting at a desk chair or sleeping in a bed. You might experience a weird feeling when you do try to move your arm or try stand on your leg. the arm or the leg might not feel like it is apart of you any more.

Other common nerve conditions that cause pins and needles can come from peripheral nerve entrapment. This would be the case of a pinched nerve or trapped nerve otherwise known as a radiculopathy. A nerve can be pinched in your back causing problems in the arm or leg. Nerves trapped in a wrist might cause carpal tunnel syndrome or in the ankle tarsal tunnel syndrome.

#2 Problem with the Blood Vessels

As I mentioned earlier there are blood vessels with nerves. In some cases conditions affecting the blood circulation of the artery or vein can be the cause of the pins and needles.

Some diseases that do this are:

Don’t worry! Remember other symptoms will go with the conditions mentioned above. A doctor will be able to help you find out why you are getting the abnormal skin sensation.

If the pins and needles feeling last longer or you get other worrying signs like weakness, pain, lose of function like speech, movement, sight etc… then wait and see is not what is needed for treatment. See a local doctor ASAP or call a paramedic if you are worried.

How to Treat Your Pins & Needles

How to treat pins and needles depends on the cause again. Most of the time it is just time that is needed. Give it a few minutes and it will pass.

If you are getting a pins and needles feeling then take a look at some ways to help a pinched nerve in your leg or pinched nerve in your arm.

Sleeping Positions

This video caught my attention with the title “How to avoid a trapped arm whilst cuddling in bed“. I knew I had to watch this video just to see what this was all about.

I have definitely experienced it and I’m sure you have. It is that feeling when you’re laying in bed snuggling or cuddling a girlfriend or wife and your arm gets trapped underneath their head. You then get a loss of feeling in the hand and arm. It is not a nice feeling at all. So watch the video below to get some tips on “How to avoid a trapped arm whilst cuddling in bed” 🙂

The different tips to avoid that dead arm or pins and needles feeling in your hand are:

  1. Classic spoon,
  2. Shoulder roll,
  3. The superman,
  4. The star gazer,
  5. The pragmatic approach.

Even those this video is a comedy and funny to watch there are some good sleep positions to try to minimise the risk of getting that trapped nerve in your arm making a dead arm feeling. By the way the anatomical problem is more a pinching of the major blood vessels into the arm not the nerve. A related condition is Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.

So have you tried the different sleep positions to help keep your arm awake? Which is your favourite out the lot? Let me know in a comment below.

The Bottom Line

Most of the time getting pins and needles could just be cause your scared from watching a horror movie or you just temporarily pinched a nerve. Normal feeling will come back soon. However there are times that funny feeling could be the sign of something more serious.

So if your concerned about a serious cause call the NHS direct on 0845 4647, see your local A&E doctor or GP for further investigations.

Image CreditSome rights reserved by nathanmac87
  • codenamesparrow

    I got lupus and rheumatoid arthritis .Its a inflammatory disease autoimmune disorder of the blood. been getting electric shocks pins and needles pricks under the skin started when i was hot and sweating . nerve endings swell up and block the signals going back until it builds up and zap . I did notice its worse with beer ,soda ,coffee are all inflammatory drinks . putting ice on the spot seems to slow it down or stop it. smoking not good either. I just drink water now and relax and stay in cool air.

  • Rob Kemp

    I’ve had mine for over a year and it’s getting worse, my right arm ‘locks’ regularly with painful pins & needles & horrific neck/shoulder pain.
    Darn physio keeps suggesting various exercises blah blah –
    I’ve done it for months, nothing works, not even pain killers!
    It’s debilitating my life quite frankly.

  • Gel Gill

    i have had pins and needles from my feet and all over my body for 8 weeks now and its very distressing. My doctor blames anxiety but i am not anxious when the feeling comes on me. i feel very hot when the sharp tingling begins. what could be wrong?

  • senga gallacher

    I have hand pins neddles and numbness in my arms hands legs feet all face and sore head and ut not a nice feelinv what can it be thanks

  • Hey Charles, good question I have no idea what the history of the phrase is. I’m guessing it is because of the prickly feeling.

  • Interesting to learn the medical term for pins and needles.

    Do you know how or when the expression ‘pins and needles’ was first used? I’m guessing the expression was invented because it apparently feels like pins and needles sticking in your foot. However, I would imagine that real pins and needles sticking in your foot actually feels a lot more painful than the sensation of ‘pins and needles’, so I’m curious to discover where the expression came from.

  • gary

    Iam having weird sensations in my feet,burning tingling . when i try to lie down ,it is worse . i have trouble getting comfortable to sleep . My doctor sent me for ultra sounds on my kidneys , because my urine is strong smelling . the pain is bearable whilst iam walking or sitting up .