Pins and needles are an unusual sensation that we have all likely experienced at some point in our lives.
They are an unusual feeling and many people will describe the sensation differently, common variants are prickling, tingling, tickling and sometimes feels like ants are crawling on your skin. The sensation is often followed by numbness until what is causing the feeling is addressed or relieved
So what causes pin and needles?
Pins and needles are a common symptom we see in the clinic and that’s because they are commonly the result of an irritated nerve, this could be as simple as some inflammation or spasmodic muscles, also common in pregnancy as the body dynamic changes so quickly.
Pins and needles can also have a more chronic build up such as carpal tunnel syndrome or osteophyte formation (bone spurs) and in care cases can be pathological, this can have more serious complications.
Aside from nerve irritation, pins and needles can also be caused by vascular compression (lack of blood supply), this is most likely what is happening when you wake up with a numb hand after having it up under your pillow all night. A common cause of this being persistent is thoracic outlet syndrome. This is due to the brachial plexus being compressed, commonly by the pecs or the scalene muscles in your chest and neck.
Other causes include
- Neuritis (inflammation of the nerve itself)
- Long term alcohol and drug abuse
- TIA or Stroke
When do I seek treatment?
The occasional bout of pins and needles is often harmless, likely you moved into an awkward position and caused some discomfort over a period of time, if this self resolves quickly it is of minimal concern.
However if this sensation repeats itself frequently or lasts minutes at a time; a thorough assessment is recommended to rule out potential serious causes.
What can we do to help?
- As Osteopaths we will give a thorough assessment in an attempt to reproduce the sensation so that we can find the nerve root responsible.
- Depending on the condition we will use a wide range of hands on techniques to enable your body to move more freely to lessen the pressure on the nerve.
- The time frame for recovery can be highly variable depending on the cause, some problems may improve instantly and more chronic conditions can take weeks or months.
- Should the cause be medical we will refer you on to your GP should medical management be the necessary option