What causes the Pins and Needles sensation?

Q: What is the cause of the ‘pins and needles’ feeling I get sometimes when I wake up in the morning?

A: This is a very commonly occurring symptom that many of us have experienced. It’s clinically known as Paresthesia (from the Greek ‘abnormal-sensation’). When this occurs on a transient basis, it’s typically nothing to be alarmed about. The cause of this sensation, that is often referred to as a [limb] falling asleep, occurs when there is a prolonged compression on a nerve when leaning or resting on this body part for a prolonged period of time. Some may experience this after sitting in a particular manner for too long where others may wake up from a nights rest after lying on a body part for too long. The symptoms typically subside within a few minutes of repositioning and moving the affected area. Think of this the same way you would envision water running through a hose that gets a sudden ‘kink’. When a compressive force inhibits the proper flow of axoplasm through a nerve, this can elicit a sensation of tingling, pins and needles or in more chronic case, pain. Once the ‘kink’ is removed, proper flow returns.

If the sensation occurs frequently in areas such as the arms and wrist, there may be some repetitive stress being placed on common entrapment sites that would warrant more evaluation. Common issues related to chronic nerve entrapment are carpal tunnel syndrome, thoracic outlet syndrome and piriformis syndrome, to name a few. These types of conditions may be easily corrected with some soft tissue therapy along with some ergonomic adjustments, but some may require surgical interventions.


Ask Drew!

Each month we will be selecting a question from one of our patients to explore in the following month’s newsletter. We know you have many questions about wellness related topics such as understanding injuries, managing stress, etc…and we want to offer you a platform to ask Drew a question directly that would also benefit other patients.

We look forward to receiving your questions!

(Comments and suggestions from Drew do not constitute a diagnosis. ‘Ask Drew’ is intended for informational purposes only.)

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