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Why Do We Feel Pins and Needles?

Why Do We Feel Pins and Needles?

Have you ever woken up feeling some numbness in your feet? You might also have tried to get up and walk, but a pricking or tingling sensation makes it difficult. What you have experienced is commonly known as pins and needles.

But what causes pins and needles to happen? Is there anything you need to know on how to stop pins and needles in feet?

What Are Pins and Needles?

The sensation of “pins and needles” occurs when blood supply to certain parts of your body get cut off. If you have slept in a position where your hand is tucked under your head or your body, you may have woken up with pins and needles.

This happens because you are pressing against your nerves, or the blood supply to your hand gets cut off, which causes you to have the sensation. This can also happen if you are sitting in one position for an extended period of time, or if you are lying down in an awkward position.

how to stop pins and needles in feet

You get the feeling because your body needs blood in order to function properly. When the flow of blood gets cut off or reduced, that part of your body that is affected starts to send signals to your brain. These signals tell your brain that there is a problem with either your nerves or circulation. This will prompt you to immediately address the issue.

For the most part, moving around and getting the circulation back can get rid of pins and needles. This is usually the best and most effective way of how to stop pins and needles in feet and hands. However, this may not always work, as pins and needles can also be caused by other things.

Should You Be Concerned About Pins and Needles?

Pins and needles are not always caused by a lack of circulation or pressure on your nerves. Sometimes, they can be caused by more serious conditions such as a poor diet, taking certain types of medication, chemotherapy, nerve damage, or side effects of some medicines.

Here are some of the possible causes of pins and needles:

  • Applying pressure on your nerves, which is the case for pregnant women
  • Pinched nerves
  • Having inflammation in your nerves
  • Nerve disease or nerve injury
  • Breathing excessively or hyperventilation
  • Diabetes
  • Certain types of medication, such as those for HIV
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Stroke

All of these things can potentially cause pins and needles, so it is important to be mindful of your other symptoms. Do not simply dismiss it due to lack of circulation.

When Should You Go to the Doctor?

For the most part, having pins and needles is normal, and happens to people every so often. But there are some instances where you might need to get it looked at by a doctor.

For example, if you feel any numbness or pins and needles in your hands when you bend your wrists, this might be a sign of carpal tunnel syndrome. What happens is that your nerves are getting pinched when you move your wrists, causing it to feel numb.

If you have a recent injury and are suddenly experiencing pins and needles, some of your nerves might have been damaged.

Additionally, if you are experiencing chronic pins and needles or numbness, especially in different parts of your body, then it might be a good idea to get it checked by your doctor.

In particular, having pins and needles in your buttocks, leg, or a foot without any apparent reason might be a sign of sciatica or a slipped disc. In some cases, pins and needles on one side of the body can be a sign of stroke. Multiple sclerosis can also manifest early on as numbness or tingling in various parts of your body.

So the general rule is that if you suddenly experience pins and needles for a prolonged period of time, with no apparent reason, it would be best to talk to your doctor.

Tips on How to Stop Pins and Needles in Feet

Pins and needles can be annoying and uncomfortable, but for the most part, they are harmless. Still, it would be a good idea to know the steps on how to stop pins and needles in feet so that you can quickly relieve any discomfort.

Here are some of the ways to stop pins and needles in feet:

  • If you have been sitting in one position for a long time, try standing up, stretching, or moving around. This should help bring circulation back in your feet.
  • When you sleep, try to avoid lying down on your arm or hand in order to avoid cutting off the blood flow.
  • Keep your back straight, and your hands should be angled down to your keyboard if you are using a computer. If your hands are angled up, this can cause the nerves in your hands to get pinched and can cause carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Be sure to eat the right foods. Eating fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin B complex, vitamin C, vitamin E, and magnesium are good for your nervous system. Dark green leafy vegetables contain a lot of these nutrients.
  • Engage in daily exercise. Exercise helps keep your body in good shape and helps improve circulation in your body.
  • Being overweight or obese can also increase your risk of having pins and needles. If you are obese or overweight, it would be a good idea to try and lose weight in order to lower your risk of pins and needles, as well as cardiovascular and musculoskeletal diseases.

Key Takeaways

By following these tips, you should be able to prevent having pins and needles in your feet. As mentioned, the condition may cause some discomfort, but this is usually of no serious concern. However, if you feel that your symptoms may be caused by something else, or if you experience chronic pins and needles often, get in touch with your doctor.

Learn more about the Brain & Nervous System here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


How to get rid of a sleepy foot, http://www-scf.usc.edu/~annieoh/acad275/tutorial.html, Accessed June 25 2020

Pins and needles – NHS, https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pins-and-needles/, Accessed June 25 2020

Pins and needles – Better Health Channel, https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/pins-and-needles#:~:text=’Pins%20and%20needles’%20are%20a,and%20the%20pressure%20is%20removed., Accessed June 25 2020

Understanding the ‘Pins and Needles’ Feeling – Health Encyclopedia – University of Rochester Medical Center, https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=1&ContentID=58, Accessed June 25 2020

What causes pins and needles – and when should you worry? | Patient, https://patient.info/news-and-features/pins-and-needles-causes, Accessed June 25 2020

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Written by Jan Alwyn Batara Updated May 17
Medically reviewed by Mike-Kenneth Go Doratan, M.D.