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Pins and needles in the hands

Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Roger HendersonReviewed on 29.04.2024 | 2 minutes read
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Pins and needles is an odd sensation that feels like tingling or numbness on the skin. It can occur anywhere on the body but commonly occurs on the arms, legs, hands and feet. Pins and needles are often a short-lived thing that happens when the blood supply to the nerve is stopped temporarily, for example, when you lie or sleep on a body part for a long time. Occasionally, there are also medical problems that can cause pins and needles. We will explain some of the varied causes below.

Hyperventilation

Breathing very rapidly (hyperventilation) can cause pins and needles, commonly in the hands. This can occur with anxiety or asthma attacks for example.

Long term conditions

You may also get pins and needles with more chronic conditions such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis or Raynaud's.

Multiple sclerosis can occur anywhere on the body, whereas the other two typically happen on the hands and feet.

Sciatica or a trapped nerve can occur with or without back pain and people can experience pins and needles that travel as shock waves down the leg towards the foot.

Diet and medications

Other causes of pins and needles can include side effects of some medications and treatments. Diets lacking in vitamin B12 and drinking too much alcohol may all cause the symptoms.

When should you see your doctor?

Anyone can get pins and needles and most commonly it is something that happens in passing and doesn't last long. Nevertheless if you are worried about it, or it has been going on for some time then your doctor would want to hear about it. If your pins and needles is associated with any other more concerning symptoms such as:

  • fevers
  • persistent weakness in the arms or legs
  • severe pain

You should seek medical advice urgently

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Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Roger Henderson
Reviewed on 29.04.2024
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