What is Pin and Needle Like Sensation?
Pin and needle-like sensation all over the body or in local areas are termed as paresthesia of skin or altered sensation. It is painless but may cause numbness and itching in arms or legs or toes or feet.
The sensation is really unpleasant and abnormal in that part of the body. The person might feel like pin-prickly on the part of the body. It can be odd, unpleasant, uncomfortable but many times it is harmless.
Paresthesia is a medical term to describe the sensations occurring in the skin. It is considered as an abnormal or altered sensation generally felt in legs, hands, feet, toes, and fingers.
Pins and needles are commonly referred as “going to sleep” for the suffering body part. This occurs because the nerve and the artery are squeezed and the steady supply of oxygen and glucose to the nerve is seized.
The nerve can no longer work and loses its ability to send and receive signals. Thus, the particular part of the body where this happens “falls asleep” due to no proper blood supply and signals.
Removing the blockage, the nerve cells begin to work properly and the pins and needles sensation can be felt. When the blood supply comes back to normal the sensation is gone.
Pins and needles sensation is also supposed to be a result of anxiety and stress. Pens and needles in the limbs are also referred as peripheral neuropathy.
The American Chronic Pain Association estimated that more than 15 million people living in the U.S. and Europe are suffering from some kind of neuropathic pain.
It further reported that more than two out of every 100 people suffered from peripheral neuropathy. This incidence may rise to eight in every 100 people for people aged 55 or older.
What are the Symptoms of Pins and Needles?
The symptoms of pins and needles include:
- Feeling pins and needles poking in the arms, hands, toes or feet. It may also be felt on face, lips, stomach, etc.
- It affects one area at a time and can migrate to a different area.
- The symptoms can become and go or may persist for a longer period of time.
- It can lead to anxiety and depression.
- The symptoms vary from one day to another and from one moment to another.
- Distracted sleep and restlessness may also result.
Pin and needles can be temporary or long-lasting.
What is Temporary Pin and Needles?
Temporary pin and needles occur due to poor circulation of blood in a particular body part that resolves when the pressure is released when the pressure is released and blood circulation comes back to normal.
This Is called Raynaud’s disease. It is triggered by cold temperatures, anxiety, and stress. Raynaud’s disease is common in blood vessels that supply blood to the skin.
Other reason for temporary pin and needles can be hyperventilating i.e. breathing very quickly.
What is Long Lasting Pins and Needles?
In some cases, the pins and needles sensation may be long lasting if it is associated with any disease.
Some of the health conditions that might lead to long-lasting pins and needles are as follows:
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- A compressed ulnar nerve of the hand
- Back muscle pain
- Cervical Radiculopathy
- Bulging disc
- Facet Joint Pain
- Neck Arm Pain
- Sacroiliac Joint Pain
- Spinal Stenosis
- Underactive thyroid
- Cervical Spondylosis
- Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
- Tennis Elbow
- Allergic reactions
The long lasting pins and needles can also result from the following conditions:
- any damage to the nervous system such as a stroke and multiple sclerosis
- exposure to any toxic substance such as radiation
- certain types of medication such as some antibiotics or HIV medication
- malnutrition or deficiency of vitamin B12
- any damage to the nerves due to an infection
- misuse of alcohol
- any tightening of muscles
Nerve entrapment syndromes may also arise due to pressure on a nerve by the surrounding structures. This condition is seen in carpal tunnel syndrome, ulnar nerve compression, and cervical spondylitis.
In the carpal tunnel syndrome, the median nerve of the hand is pinched by inflammation and it swells.
When to Seek a Medical Help?
Generally, temporary pins and needles do not need a medical attention because it disappears when the pressure is released and blood circulation is improved in that particular area.
If pins and needles sensation come back too often it is not a good sign and a medical help should be taken. If the sensation is due to a serious health condition such as diabetes or cervical spondylosis the treatment of the disease is mandatory to get rid of the sensation.
What are the Precautionary Measures for Pins and Needles?
There are some little things that can be done to minimize this type of sensation.
Some of these are listed below:
- wearing loose clothes and shoes
- wearing soft cotton socks
- avoiding lifting shopping bags, heavyweights
- taking regular breaks from work
- avoiding a bad posture
- doing physical activities such as yoga and other exercises
- controlling diabetes
- avoiding excess alcohol
- breathing slowly and during stress helps in long-term pins and needles
If the pins and needles still persist a physician should be consulted for a proper check-up. If pins and needles have resulted due to stress and anxiety then the person should calm himself/herself and the body will recover in 20 minutes.
Paresthesia of skin or the pins and needles is a curable disease that may be caused in association with other diseases.
Pin and needle sensation in the limbs can go off in few minutes and does not need a medical assistance but It is always advisable to consult a doctor in case of long lasting pins and needles.