How to Get Rid of Pins and Needles

Janis

By Janis | Updated January 8, 2024

Pins and needles, also known as paresthesia, is a common sensation that many people experience. It often occurs when pressure is applied to a specific body part, restricting blood flow and causing temporary numbness.

In most cases, pins and needles resolve on their own once you change positions or alleviate the pressure on the affected area. 

However, if you consistently experience this sensation or it becomes bothersome, it’s essential to understand the underlying causes and find effective solutions to manage it.

What are the Feelings of Pins and Needles?

Pins and needles, also known as paresthesia, refer to abnormal sensations characterized by tingling, numbness, or a prickling feeling in various parts of the body, most commonly experienced in the hands and feet.

These temporary sensations can be described as a combination of mild electrical-like impulses or the sensation of small pins or needles poking the affected area.

While pins and needles can be uncomfortable and even irritating, they are typically not a cause for immediate concern and are often transient in nature.

Causes of Pins and Needles

Understanding the underlying mechanisms behind the pins and needles sensation is crucial for grasping the various situations and conditions that can trigger it, ranging from benign everyday occurrences to potentially more serious health issues.

Pressure on Nerves

When pressure is exerted on nerves, the nerves can become compressed or pinched. 

This compression disrupts the normal flow of signals between your brain and the affected area, leading to feelings of pins and needles.

Temporary nerve compression is often harmless, but chronic pressure can result in more significant issues, making it important to alleviate the pressure and allow the nerves to function properly.

Injury or Accidents

Injuries, such as accidents or trauma, can cause feelings of pins and needles. When you experience a physical injury, it may damage nerve fibers or blood vessels in the affected area. 

This damage can interfere with the transmission of signals or blood supply, resulting in a tingling sensation.

While minor injuries might heal with time, it’s crucial to seek medical attention for more severe injuries to ensure proper healing and rehabilitation, as well as avoiding long-term complications.

Reduced Blood Supply

Pressure on blood vessels can also lead to the sensation of pins and needles. When you put sustained pressure on a blood vessel, it can reduce or block the flow of oxygen-rich blood to a specific body part.

Without an adequate blood supply, the nerves in that area can’t function correctly, causing tingling or numbness. It’s important to relieve pressure on blood vessels promptly, as impaired circulation can lead to tissue damage and potential complications.

Position and Posture

Your posture plays a significant role in experiencing pins and needles. Sitting or standing in an awkward position for an extended period can lead to nerve compression.

For instance, sitting cross-legged can compress nerves in your legs, restricting blood flow and causing the pins and needles sensation.

Lack of Sleep

Insufficient sleep affects your body’s overall function, including nerve health. When you’re sleep-deprived, your nerves can become more sensitive, making you prone to tingling sensations.

Prioritizing adequate sleep is crucial to prevent these discomforting feelings.

Changes in Breathing Patterns

Hyperventilation, often linked to rapid and shallow breathing, can lead to a drop in carbon dioxide levels in your blood.

This change can affect the pH of your blood, leading to a tingling sensation, particularly in your extremities. Calming your breathing can alleviate this symptom.

Stress and Anxiety

High levels of anxiety and stress can trigger various physical symptoms, including pins and needles. When you’re anxious, your body’s stress response can affect blood flow and nerve sensitivity.

Managing stress through relaxation techniques and mindfulness can help reduce these sensations.

How to Manage Pins and Needles

Whether the tingling sensations are a result of temporary pressure, injury, or other factors, understanding effective management strategies for paresthesia is key to promoting overall well-being. Here are practical approaches to help you find relief:

Removing Pressure

If you experience numbness, it’s vital to remove any pressure on the affected body part.

This will allow the nerves to regain normal function and alleviate the pins and needles sensation.

Cold and Warm Compress

Alternating between cold and warm compresses can help manage pins and needles. Cold compresses reduce inflammation and numb the area, providing immediate relief.

Warm compresses relax muscles, improve blood flow, and alleviate nerve compression. This combination can reduce discomfort and promote nerve recovery.

Walking

Engaging in regular walking can help manage pins and needles. Walking increases blood circulation throughout your body, which can alleviate numbness by ensuring an adequate oxygen supply to your nerves.

Additionally, it encourages muscle movement, reducing pressure on nerves and preventing the tingling sensation.

Stretching

Incorporating stretching exercises into your routine can be an effective way to manage pins and needles. Stretching helps improve flexibility, relieves muscle tension, and promotes proper posture.

It can also reduce nerve compression by releasing pressure on affected areas, ultimately alleviating the discomfort associated with pins and needles.

Moving Your Body

When you can, change your position and move around to encourage blood flow to the hands and legs. This can help reduce numbness and relieve the uncomfortable sensation.

To reduce pins and needles in your hands, try clenching and unclenching your fists. Doing this repeatedly can help stimulate nerve activity and alleviate numbness.

For numbness in your legs or feet, wiggle your toes to encourage nerve activity and blood flow.

Light Head Exercises

If you experience pins and needles in your neck or upper back, gently rock your head from side to side.

This motion can help stretch the muscles and reduce pressure on the nerves.

Preventing Pins and Needles from Occurring

Preventing the occurrence of pins and needles, or paresthesia, involves adopting proactive measures to maintain healthy circulation and nerve function.

Here are practical steps you can take to minimize the likelihood of experiencing this discomfort in everyday situations.

Regular Massage

Massages can help improve circulation and relax muscles, which may reduce the occurrence of pins and needles.

Regular massages can help prevent pressure on nerves and promote proper blood flow.

Yoga or Meditation

Practicing yoga or meditation can help reduce stress and promote relaxation.

These activities can contribute to better circulation, reducing the likelihood of developing pins and needles sensations.

Comfortable Shoes and Clothing

Wearing ill-fitting shoes can put pressure on your nerves and limit blood flow to your feet, increasing the likelihood of pins and needles.

Choose well-fitting, supportive shoes to promote proper circulation.

Keep your environment cool, and avoid wearing tight clothes to reduce compression on nerves.

Pressure Stockings or Gloves

Pressure stockings or gloves can help improve blood flow and prevent pins and needles sensations in your hands or feet.

These can be particularly helpful if you have a medical condition causing poor circulation.

Restful Sleep

Getting enough sleep is crucial for overall health and well-being.

A good sleep routine can promote better circulation and recovery, as well as reduce the chances of experiencing pins and needles sensations due to nerve compression or lack of blood flow.

Proper Posture

Maintaining good posture can help prevent pins and needles. When you sit or stand with proper alignment, you reduce the risk of compressing nerves or blood vessels.

This allows for better blood flow and nerve function, minimizing the likelihood of tingling or numbness in your limbs. So, consciously focus on your posture to keep pins and needles at bay.

Deep Breathing

Deep, slow breathing can help prevent pins and needles. When you breathe deeply, you ensure an adequate supply of oxygen to your nerves. This oxygen nourishes and supports nerve function, reducing the chances of tingling sensations. 

Incorporating deep breathing exercises into your routine can contribute to overall nerve health and well-being.

Related Medical Conditions

Paresthesia can sometimes be a symptom of underlying medical conditions. These sensations may serve as important indicators of health issues that require attention.

Diabetes

If you have diabetes, you might experience pins and needles due to nerve damage. This condition, known as diabetic neuropathy, can cause tingling, burning, or numbness in your extremities.

To minimize these sensations, maintain healthy blood sugar levels and follow your doctor’s recommendations.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Joint inflammation from rheumatoid arthritis may compress nearby nerves, leading to pins and needles.

Treatment options for this autoimmune condition include anti-inflammatory medications, corticosteroids, and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs).

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome results from median nerve compression in your wrist. Typical symptoms include pins and needles, numbness, and weakness in your hand.

Common treatments include wearing a wrist splint, taking anti-inflammatory drugs, and, in more severe cases, surgery to relieve nerve pressure.

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease, a tick-borne illness, can cause neurological symptoms such as pins and needles if it affects your nervous system.

Early diagnosis and treatment can help minimize these sensations related to Lyme disease and prevent chronic complications.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

MS can lead to the occurrence of pins and needles in your limbs. The nerve inflammation from this autoimmune disorder can disrupt signals, causing the tingling sensations.

Regular visits to your healthcare provider and following their prescribed treatment plan can help manage MS-related symptoms.

Diseases Related to Immune System

Various autoimmune diseases, such as lupus and Sjogren’s syndrome, can lead to pins-and-needles sensations.

These disorders often cause inflammation or nerve damage, resulting in tingling and numbness.

Brain Stroke

Pins and needles can be related to serious medical conditions, including stroke. A stroke occurs when there’s a disruption in blood flow to the brain.

This can lead to neurological symptoms, including paresthesia (pins and needles), particularly on one side of the body. Recognizing pins and needles as a symptom of stroke is crucial for seeking prompt medical attention.

Lack of Vitamins

Vitamin deficiencies, such as those in vitamin B12, can lead to peripheral neuropathy, a condition causing pins and needles. Vitamins play a vital role in maintaining nerve health, and insufficient levels can result in nerve damage.

Adequate nutrition and addressing vitamin deficiencies are essential for preventing and managing pins and needles associated with these conditions.

When to See a Doctor

Understanding the red flags and knowing when to consult a doctor is essential for timely diagnosis and appropriate management of potential underlying issues.

Long Term Sensation

If you experience frequent pins and needles sensations, it’s essential to consult with a doctor. Persistent sensations may indicate an underlying medical condition that needs attention.

Conditions such as diabetes, spinal problems, and rheumatoid arthritis can cause these symptoms.

Fatigue and Exhaustion

In some cases, pins and needles may be accompanied by weakness, dizziness, or fatigue.

These additional symptoms may signal a more serious issue, warranting a doctor’s visit as soon as possible.

Uncontrolled Pain and Numbness

Lastly, uncontrolled pain or numbness in your hands or feet can also create dangerous situations. You may stumble, drop things, or not realize when you’re touching something hot.

In such instances, seeking medical attention is crucial to prevent further complications or accidents.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the causes of pins and needles in hands and feet?

Pins and needles can be caused by putting pressure on your nerves or blood supply to your hands and feet.

Other causes include conditions like diabetes, vitamin deficiencies, and nerve damage.

How can I quickly alleviate pins and needles?

To alleviate pins and needles, simply change your position or move the affected area to restore blood flow and relieve pressure on nerves.

Shake or massage the area if needed.

Are there any home remedies for pins and needles?

Relieve pins and needles by applying a warm or cold compress on the affected area.

You can also elevate the affected body part and practice deep breathing exercises to improve circulation.

When should I seek medical advice for persistent pins and needles?

Consult a healthcare provider if you experience frequent, severe, or long-lasting pins and needles, as it may be a sign of an underlying health issue that requires medical attention.

Aside from concerns regarding health issues, chronic loss of sensation increases the risk related to safety.

Can certain exercises help reduce pins and needles?

Gentle exercise and stretches can improve blood flow and reduce pressure on nerves, helping alleviate pins and needles.

Be sure to consult with a professional before starting any new exercise routine.

What lifestyle changes can prevent pins and needles?

Maintain a healthy lifestyle by staying active, eating a balanced diet, and ensuring proper ergonomics at work or during daily activities.

Regularly changing positions and taking breaks can also help prevent pins and needles.