Pins and needles, mild or serious?
Pins and needles (paraesthesia) is a pricking, burning, tingling or numbing sensation that’s usually felt in the arms, legs, hands or feet.
It doesn’t usually cause any pain, but it can cause numbness or itching.
Pins and needlesis usually temporary, but can sometimes be long-lasting (chronic).
Most people have temporary pins and needles from time to time.
It happens when pressure is applied to a part of the body, which cuts off the blood supply to the nerves in that area. This prevents the nerves from sending important signals to the brain.
Putting weight on a body part (for example, by kneeling) or wearing tight shoes or socks can poten-tially cause pins and nee-les.
Temporary pins and needles can be eased by simply taking the pressure off the affected area. This allows your blood supply to return, relieving the num-bness or tingling sensation.
Other common reasons for temporary pins and needles include a condition known as Raynaud’s disease (which affects the blood supply to certain areas of the body, such as the fingers and toes, and is usually triggered by cold temperatures or sometimes anxiety or stress)and hyperventilating (breathing too quickly)
Long-lasting pins and needles
Sometimes, pins and needles can occur over a long period of time. It can be a sign of a wide range of health conditions, including:
Diabetes – a condition in which there is too much glucose in the blood.
A compressed ulnar nerve – the ulnar nerve starts in your neck and runs down the inside of your upper arm to your elbow, then down to the little finger side of your hand; it can be compressed at any point, but the elbow is most commonly affec-ted. Carpal tunnel syndrome – pain, numbness and a burning or tingling sensation in the hand caused by a build-up of pressure in the small tunnel that runs from the wrist to the lower palm (the carpal tunnel).
Sciatica, pain caused by irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve, which runs from the back of your pelvis, through your buttocks and down both legs to your feet
Persistent pins and needles can also occur after an injury, or be caused by certain treat-ments, such as chemotherapy.
Most cases of pins and needles are temporary and the sensation disappears after the pressure is taken off the affected area. See your GP if you constantly have pins and needles or if it keeps coming back. It may be a sign of a more serious underlying health condition.