What are pins and needles?
Pins and needles is the strange prickly feeling that you may feel in your hands or feet, that can be quite uncomfortable. The medical term for pins and needles is paraesthesia.
What causes Pins and Needles?
Usually, pins and needles is caused by compression of a nerve. This can be a short sharp compression (eg from a hit), or a slower compression (eg sleeping on your arm).
Pins and needles in the hand is often felt if you hit your funny bone, and the prickly feeling will be felt in the little and ring fingers. This is due to the ulnar nerve being hit.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is another common cause of pins and needles in the hand, usually felt in the thumb, index and middle fingers, and usually comes on at night. People will often say that they wake up and shake their hand until the pins and needles go away. Surgery may be needed to release the carpal tunnel and the median nerve that runs in it. Occasionally, the ulnar nerve may be compressed or trapped elsewhere in the arm or neck, and a test called a nerve conduction study may be needed to find the site of compression.
The most common cause of pins and needles in the hand though, is if you lie on your arm for a while. This quickly settles when the arm is moved about.
Pins and needles can also be felt in the feet, usually caused by sitting in one position for too long especially if crossed legged. Occasionally, frequent pins and needles can indicate that a nerve is beingcompressed from the spine or elsewhere in the leg, and surgery may be needed to free the nerve.
What is the treatment for Pins and Needles?
No treatment is usually needed. If the pins and needles has been caused by a knock or from lying or sitting in a bad position, then this usually resolves quickly. If the pins and needles are caused by the nerve being compressed somewhere though, then surgery may be required (such as in carpal tunnel syndrome).
Other relevant SurgeryWise articles: carpal tunnel syndrome, carpal tunnel surgery, nerve injury, or funny bone information
The information provided is as a guide only and you should discuss matters fully with your doctor if you have any concerns whatsoever. Please also read our disclaimer