We have all experienced a temporary “pins and needles” sensation in the hands or feet when we fall asleep on our arm or sit with our legs crossed for a long time. In most cases, this is temporary and commonly harmless; it could result from pressure on nerves. The numbness and tingling feeling will be relieved soon by removing the pressure that caused it.
However, In some other cases, it can be severe and chronic denoting a more serious condition. It may also be accompanied by other symptoms such as itching, pain, numbness, or weakness in or around your hands and feet. In such cases, you may suffer from nerve damage, also known as peripheral neuropathy.
Peripheral neuropathy is a common condition. It is estimated that more than 20 million Americans, especially the elderly, suffer from peripheral neuropathy. This condition can affect nerves distant from the brain and spinal cord like hands and feet. Over time, it can lead to a loss of mobility and even disability.
Pins and needles sensation in your hands or feet have many causes such as injuries, toxic exposures, bacterial or viral infections, pressure, trauma, and certain diseases such as diabetes.
This article will discuss 14 potential common causes of pins and needles sensation in your hands or feet. This may help you identify the underlying causes. In addition, It’s important to seek a doctor for any persistent tingling in your hands or feet. This will reduce the nerve damage and the resultant consequences.
14 Common Causes of Pins and Needles in Hands or Feet
Diabetes is one of the most common causes of pins and needles in the fingers. This condition happens when the blood has excessive glucose. This will cause peripheral neuropathy that is a complication that occurred by diabetes.
This condition may damage the small blood vessels and nerves in the hands and feet when nerves in feet or hands can not be supplied with essential nutrients and blood. The feeling of pain or numbness, pins and needles will occur in the fingers and toes. Sometimes, the tingling feeling starting from the hand will move up towards the arms.
The study found two-thirds of all people with diabetes suffer from some form of neuropathy. When the condition is serious, the patient may feel anything in their hands and feet. This is dangerous, as you may drop things or stumble. Sometimes you may not realize when you are touching something hot.
Some injuries like a fractured bone can damage nerve endings in fingers or toes, resulting in tingling of extremities. Nerve damage may occur in some people who often use vibrating tools.
3. Trapped Nerves
Trapped Nerves caused by a slipped disc or trapped nerve in the neck can cause numbness, pins, or needles in fingers. This feeling can also appear from your neck, down your arms, and feet.
Carpal tunnel syndrome refers to the condition of a trapped nerve at the wrist. This is one of the most conditions that affect the upper limb. Carpal tunnel syndrome will lead to irritation, pain, pins, needles in the hand, and loss of grip.
4. Diseases that damage nerves
Some diseases can damage the nervous system in the body. This will cause numbness, pins, needles, tingling sensations in the hands.
These diseases include Liver condition, hypothyroidism, kidney disorders, blood diseases, connective tissue conditions, hormonal imbalances, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and brain tumors. Although these diseases are serious, they occur less frequently and are often accompanied by other symptoms.
5. Vitamin deficiency
Nerves in the body require a certain amount of nutrients to work properly. Vitamin deficiency can cause anemia, damage nerve, and leads to paresthesia.
Niacin and Vitamins B6, B12, E, B1 are important for your nerve health. Vitamin B12 and Vitamin B6 deficiency can lead to anemia and nerve damage, an important cause of peripheral neuropathy. This condition is common among vegans, older people, and people with pernicious anemia. However, too much B6 is also not good as it can cause tingling in the hands and feet.
People who abuse alcohol regularly are more likely to have poor dietary habits and vitamin deficiencies. Too little vitamin E and B-vitamins (such as B12) can cause anemia, which can cause peripheral neuropathy.
This will lead to the development of peripheral neuropathy that can cause tingling in the hands and feet. In addition, long-term alcohol misuse can lead to high levels of alcohol in the bloodstream and alcoholism. This condition can also damage the nerves in the body.
7. Medication use
Some medicines may damage nerves and cause a tingling sensation in your hands or feet. This is usually a side effect of drugs used to treat HIV/AIDS, breast cancer, and lymphoma.
Some other medications that may cause tingling in the hands and feet include anticonvulsants, anti-infection drugs, and heart or blood pressure drugs.
Make sure to consult a doctor before taking these medicines, such as amiodarone, hydralazine, metronidazole, dapsone, metronidazole, and dapsone.
Some toxins and chemicals such as mercury, lead, arsenic, and thallium are harmful to your nervous system. Exposure to these toxins can lead to tingling in your hands or feet.
Some common industrial and environmental chemicals include heavy metals, acrylamide, ethylene glycol, and hexacarbonyl.
9. Rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. This condition when your immune system attacks the cells of your body instead of foreign invaders by mistake. Rheumatoid arthritis often occurs in the wrists, hands, ankles, and feet. The inflammation can damage the nerves and lead to tingling in the joints.
10. Cervical spondylosis
Cervical spondylosis usually occurs when age-related wear affects spinal disks in your neck. This may pressure the spinal cord and lead to tingling or numbness in your arms and legs. Cervical spondylosis is so common that more than 60% of people over the age of 60 will be affected by cervical spondylosis.
11. Pinched nerve
A pinched nerve occurs when there’s too much pressure on a nerve from the surrounding tissues, such as muscles, tendons, bones, or cartilage. Some conditions like inflammatory, injury and repetitive movements are the most common causes of a pinched nerve.
This pressure will affect the nerve’s function and lead to cause tingling, numbness, weakness, pain in your body. These sensations may also radiate down your leg and into your foot when a pinched nerve occurs in your lower spine. Likewise, you may feel pain and numbness in your hands when a pinched nerve occurs in your wrist.
12. Carpal tunnel syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a medical condition caused by compression of the median nerve in the wrist at the carpal tunnel. Repetitive motions, injury, or inflammatory conditions are the common causes.
Carpal tunnel syndrome can cause tingling, numbness, pain, pins, and needles in the fingers. You may feel numbness and tingle in the first four fingers of your hand.
Sometimes, you can also suffer from the symptoms in the forearm or arm. Pain, numbness, and tingling usually come on gradually over a period of weeks.
Many pregnant women suffer from numbness in their hands and feet during pregnancy. This is caused by the gradual enlargement of the fetus or the swelling of the maternal body pressing the nerves. These symptoms usually disappear automatically after birth.
An infection occurs when another organism invades your body and causes disease. Types of infection include fungal, viral, protozoan, bacterial and parasitic.
- Lyme disease
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected tick. This condition is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. The infection can affect the nervous system and lead to tingling in your hands and feet.
Shingle is a viral infection caused by reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus. This condition can cause a painful rash and tingling or numbness in the affected area. Although shingles can occur anywhere, it usually affects a small part of one side of your body such as hands, arms, legs, and feet.
- Hepatitis B and C
Hepatitis B and C are caused by viruses that can progress to a “chronic” or lifelong infection. This will lead to inflammation of the liver, cirrhosis, or even liver cancer. In addition, an infection may also cause other health problems such as peripheral neuropathy. This will result in numbness and tingling in your hands or feet.
- AIDS or HIV
AIDS or HIV is a chronic, life-threatening disease caused by the human immunodeficiency virus. HIV can damage your immune system and nervous system. This will cause tingling, numbness, and pain in the hands and feet. If left untreated, it can increase the risk of acquiring cancers.
Leprosy, also called Hansen disease, is a bacterial infection caused by the leprosy bacillus. This condition can affect the peripheral nerves, skin, respiratory tract, and mucous membranes of the nose, throat, and eyes. When the infection damages the skin’s peripheral nervous system, you can feel a tingling or numbness in the hands or feet.
Other Possible Causes of Pins and Needles in Fingers or Feet
There are some other possible causes of Pins and Needles in hands or feet.
- Multiple sclerosis
- Celiac disease
- Ganglion cyst
- Raynaud’s phenomenon
- Guillain-Barre syndrome
- Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT)
How to Relieve Pins and Needles in Hands or Feet
1. Lifestyle Changes
- Control your diet to maintain optimal weight.
- Participate in sports regularly and follow a doctor-guided exercise plan.
- Eat a balanced diet, quit smoking, and avoid or limit alcohol consumption. Appropriate vitamin supplements to correct peripheral neuropathy caused by vitamin deficiency.
- Avoid wearing any tight clothing, socks, gloves, or shoes that can hurt your nerves.
- Maintain a good posture, avoid sitting for a long time, properly move the neck and back, and prevent cervical spondylosis. In addition, try to avoid lifting heavy objects and repetitive movements.
- Control blood sugar, slow down the development of diabetic neuropathy and promote nerve regeneration.
- Get rid of underlying diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or infections to remove the root cause completely.
- Take medicine under the guidance of a doctor to reduce the stinging and other symptoms of peripheral neuropathy.
- In severe cases, nerve compression can be corrected by surgery to correct nerve compression, removal of cysts, or physical therapy to reduce the pressure on the diseased nerves.
How to Diagnosis of Pins and Needles in Hands or Feet
If you go to the hospital for examination, medical experts will take the following measures:
- Check if you have been exposed to toxins, taken drugs, smoked, or consumed too much alcohol.
- Check if you have a family history of related diseases and the risk of infectious diseases.
- Use blood tests to diagnose your liver and kidney function to check whether there is a risk of vitamin deficiency or diabetes.
- Use nerve conduction velocity test or electromyography to test your nerve function and observe your reflex function.
- Some other ways including CT (computed tomography), nerve conduction velocity (NCV), electromyography (EMG), and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging).
When to See Your Doctor
Suppose there are occasional tingling sensations on the hands or feet and disappear automatically within a few minutes. This is usually a temporarily pinched nerve, and it is harmless.
However, If you notice that your pins and needles sensations recur often and the techniques above don’t work, you’d better seek medical attention as it could be the sign of another condition.
If your condition worsens, for example, you lose feeling or power in a part of your body, have unexplained falls, or experience difficulty walking. You must see a medical professional as soon as possible.