NHS website

Pins and needles

Read about pins and needles (paraesthesia), a pricking, burning, tingling or numbing sensation that is usually felt in the arms, legs, hands or feet.

23 March 2018

Introduction

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 lasts only 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

Possible causes of pins and needles

Use these links to get an idea of what you can do about pins and needles. But don't self-diagnose – see a GP if you're worried.

Symptoms Possible condition
Pins and needles in fingers or toes that change colour from white to red Raynaud's disease ↗
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 ↗

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

  • treatments – such as chemotherapy
  • some medicines – such as HIV medication, medication to prevent seizures, or some antibiotics
  • toxic substances – such as lead or radiation
  • poor diet
  • nerve damage – after an injury or illness
  • drinking too much alcohol