There’s nothing more annoying than when your hand, foot or (insert other appendage) starts tingling and eventually goes numb—you know the feeling. And what’s even worse—the pins and needles you feel as you try desperately to revive circulation and blood flow.
This familiar feeling, often referred to as a body part falling asleep, is actually just a result of pressure or compression. In medical terms, you’re experiencing paresthesia. Thankfully, though, this condition usually only lasts for a matter of seconds or minutes.
But what happens when no amount of shaking or wiggling can get the pins and needles to stop? Tingling sensations in the hands and feet for extended periods of time may be a symptom of an underlying condition. Here are some of the most common culprits:
You have a pinched nerve in your neck or back. Often times, a painful, tingling sensation that extends from your neck or back into your feet may be a sign of a pinched nerve. While this is typically the result of an injury or poor posture, further testing may be required to determine if you have an underlying condition such as arthritis.
You have a vitamin deficiency. Tingling in the hands and feet may be the result of a vitamin B12 deficiency. This is typically only the case if the sensation occurs in both hands or both feet simultaneously. People with B12 deficiencies also often experience exhaustion, lethargy, and potentially, anemia.
You have carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common injury that can cause pain and tingling in the hands and wrists. Repetitive motion and vibration can cause nerve damage which leads to the sensation. While less common, tarsal tunnel syndrome is a similar ailment affecting the feet.
You have spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis is characterized as the narrowing of the spinal canal in the neck or back. This puts pressure on the spinal cord and surrounding nerves which can cause a shooting tingling sensation. If untreated, the condition can worsen, potentially causing permanent nerve damage.
You have diabetes. High blood sugar acts as a toxin to nerves and can cause tingling in the hands and feet, otherwise known as peripheral neuropathy. If you are experiencing excessive thirst or hunger and frequent urination in addition to the tingling, ask your doctor about getting tested.
You have hypothyroidism.An underactive thyroid can cause a plethora of side effects, one of which includes tingling in the hands and feet. Other symptoms include fatigue, sensitivity to cold, weight gain, dry skin and hair loss. If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms you may need to speak to a doctorabout taking a synthetic thyroid hormone to help balance things back out.
You have multiple sclerosis. Tingling sensations, in addition to numbness and weakness, extending through the limbs can be a sign that you may have multiple sclerosis. If you are experiencing other symptoms including double vision, clumsiness and trouble controlling bathroom breaks, an MRI may be necessary to determine if you have the condition.
When you’re on pins and needles
While it’s nearly impossible to prevent paresthesia, or the feeling of a body part falling asleep, all together, you can minimize it. Make sure that you’re supporting healthy circulation by regularly getting up and walking around. If you just can’t seem to shake it off, your primary care provider can help.
The experts of GMG Primary Care will ensure you receive the customized care you deserve, from diagnosis to treatment. With a wide array of services, knowledgeable providers and an extensive range of resources through GMC, you can count on GMG Primary Care for all of your health needs from head to toe.