Pins and needles is a condition where a tingling, pricking or burning sensation is found in arms and legs. This condition is also known as paraesthesia.There are two types of pins and needles.
Temporary pins and needles
A cut off in the blood supply to nerves in the affected area by applied weight results in temporary pins and needles.Kneeling or certain sitting positions often cause this condition.
Chronic pins and needles
Serious underlying conditions cause chronic pins and needles. This may include conditions such as multiple sclerosis or diabetes. They are experienced frequently over a long period of time. Treatment for chronic pins and needles depends on the cause for the condition. A simple change in lifestyle or medication and surgery may be required for the treatment.
Symptoms of pins and needles
The common places where pins and needles occur are hands, legs, arms or feet. It may also occur in mouth and neck. Some of the symptoms of pins and needles are as follows
>normally a painless cold, warm or burning sensation in the affected area
>tingling or pricking sensation
The symptoms disappear after the removal of pressure in the affected area in case of temporary pins and needles. If these symptoms stay for a period of 2 months or more, one should consult the GP.This may be symptoms for a more serious condition.
Causes of pins and needles
Pressure applied in the nerves of the affected area causes pins and needles. In this condition the nerves are not able to send important signals to brain as the blood supply to nerves is cut off.
Chronic pins and needles
An underlying condition or a disease is the cause for chronic pins and needles. Some of them are
> Connective tissue diseases such as Sjogren’s syndrome
>Central nervous system disorders such as multiple sclerosis
>Cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis
>Metabolic diseases such as hypothyroidism
>Nerve-entrapment syndromes such as sciatica
>Infections such as Lyme disease
>Peripheral vascular diseases
Chronic pins and needles may also be caused by
>certain medications such as HIV medication, chemotherapy and anticonvulsant medications
> toxic substances such as lead
>vitamin B12 deficiency
> alcohol misuse
> direct damage to the nerves by infection or injury
Treating pins and needles
Temporary pins and needles can be treated by just taking off the pressure from the affected area. Treatment for chronic pins and needles depends on the cause for it. If diabetes is the cause of chronic pins and needles, the treatment will involve controlling the conditions to relieve the symptoms. A medication or surgery might be done to control the condition. If a vitamin B12 deficiency causes pins and needles, it may be treated by changing unhealthy behaviour. This would include cutting down consumption of alcohol and eating more food that contains vitamin B12.
Preventing pins and needles
The symptoms of chronic pins and needles can be reduced by
> eating a healthy and balanced diet
> exercising regularly
>cutting down alcohol consumption and quitting smoking