Pins and needles

Everyone can get pins and needles but see a GP if you keep getting it or it lasts a long time.

What is pins and needles?

Pins and needles feels like pricking, tingling or numbness on the skin.

It happens when the blood supply to the nerves is cut off. This is usually when you sit or sleep on part of your body. It only lasts a few minutes.

You often get pins and needles in your:

  • arms
  • hands
  • legs
  • feet

It usually stops when the weight is taken off the body part and your blood supply returns to the nerves.

See a GP if:

  • you constantly have pins and needles
  • it keeps coming back

Any treatment you might need for pins and needles will depend on the cause.

Possible causes of pins and needles

There are some possible medical causes of pins and needles. If you have other symptoms this might help to find the cause.

But do not self-diagnose – see a GP if you're worried.

Possible causes of pins and needles

Symptoms Possible condition
Pins and needles, pain or numbness in hands and feet Diabetes
Pins and needles in fingers or toes that change colour Raynaud's
Breathing too quickly, trembling hands, pins and needles Hyperventilation
Pain and pins and needles that travels from your back, down your leg to your foot Sciatica
Pins and needles in different parts of your body Multiple sclerosis

Possible causes of pins and needles

Long-lasting pins and needles may also be caused by:

  • treatments – such as chemotherapy
  • some medicines – such as HIV medicine, medicine to prevent seizures, or some antibiotics
  • toxic substances – such as lead or radiation
  • poor diet
  • a trapped nerve in your back or neck
  • nerve damage – after an injury or illness
  • drinking too much alcohol