Pins & Needles FAQs

What constitutes pins and needles? 

Paresthesia, commonly referred to as pins and needles, encompass a spectrum of unusual sensory perceptions, including numbness, tingling, burning, itching, and even the sensation of insects crawling on the skin (Baron et al., 2017; Travell & Simons, 1999; O'Sullivan, 2019).

What Underlies Pins and Needles?

The origins of pins and needles are multifaceted and can be categorised into transient and chronic causes (Baron et al., 2017; Travell & Simons, 1999; O'Sullivan, 2019).

Transient causes of pins and needles:

  • Circulatory Impairment: Temporary disruptions in blood flow, often arising from extended immobility in uncomfortable postures (Baron et al., 2017; Travell & Simons, 1999).
  • Nerve Impingement: Short-lived nerve compression, typically resulting from prolonged pressure on specific body regions (Travell & Simons, 1999).

Chronic origins of pins and needles:

  • Nerve Compression Syndromes: Conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome, characterized by persistent nerve compression or irritation (Baron et al., 2017; O'Sullivan, 2019; Travell & Simons, 1999).
  • Neuropathic Disorders: Neuropathy, frequently associated with diabetes, leads to enduring nerve damage and long-lasting tingling sensations (Baron et al., 2017; O'Sullivan, 2019; Travell & Simons, 1999).

Where can pins and needles manifest? 

Pins and needles can surface in various bodily regions, primarily where skin is present. Notably, these sensations can also manifest in areas devoid of skin, as seen in phantom sensations following amputations (Baron et al., 2017; Travell & Simons, 1999).

Do pins and needles suggest underlying pathology?

While pins and needles can occasionally be indicative of an underlying medical condition, they are generally benign (Baron et al., 2017; O'Sullivan, 2019). Transient occurrences are often associated with posture or short-lived nerve disturbances, whereas persistent or recurrent episodes may warrant medical evaluation.

How can pins and needles be managed? 

The management of pins and needles is contingent on the underlying cause. For transient occurrences, simple interventions such as postural adjustments, stretching, and localized massage can ameliorate the sensation. In cases of chronic or recurrent paresthesia, comprehensive assessment by a healthcare professional is essential (Baron et al., 2017; O'Sullivan, 2019; Travell & Simons, 1999). Treatment options may encompass physical therapy, pharmacological interventions, or individualised lifestyle modifications.

If you need help with any of this, we would love to help you out!

REFERENCES (click to view)

Baron, R., Maier, C., Attal, N., Binder, A., Bouhassira, D., Cruccu, G., ... & Tölle, T. (2017). Peripheral neuropathic pain: a mechanism-related organizing principle based on sensory profiles. Pain, 158(2), 261-272.

O'Sullivan, P. (2019). Diagnosis and classification of chronic low back pain disorders: Maladaptive movement and motor control impairments as an underlying mechanism. Manual Therapy, 14(5), 242-255.

Travell, J. G., & Simons, D. G. (1999). Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual, Volume 1: Upper Half of Body. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Scroll to Top