Pins and Needles in Hands: Why and What to Do

We have all experienced that uncomfortable tingling or prickling in our hands or feet after sitting or standing uncomfortably for a long while. Although it is commonly harmless and temporary, it can be severe and chronic in some people denoting a more serious condition. The latter group may suffer from nerve damage which can, over an extended period, result in a loss of mobility and even possible disability. Getting prompt medical attention in this case can minimize the nerve damage and the resultant lifelong consequences. The medical term for tingling and abnormal sensations on the skin is paraesthesia.

Possible Causes of Pins and Needles in Hands

1. Diabetes

It is one of the leading causes of a condition called peripheral neuropathy (damage to the nerves in hands and feet). An astounding two-thirds of all diabetics exhibit some form of neuropathy with the tingling starting in the hand and moving up towards the arms. The elevated levels of glucose in the body damages small blood vessels so that nerves in hands and feet are not supplied with blood and essential nutrients. When feeling is lost in the extremities, consequences are accidents like dropping objects from the hands, stumbling and falling.

2. Alcoholism

People who abuse alcohol regularly without eating meals properly have many vitamin deficiencies due to their poor diets. These deficiencies often lead to damaged nerves because the B-vitamins, niacin and vitamin E are essential in healthy nerve function. Too little vitamin B12 results in a type of anemia which causes peripheral neuropathy. In addition to this, the high levels of alcohol in the bloodstream also damage the nerves in the body.

3. Nerve Entrapment

Conditions like carpel tunnel syndrome in which nerves are trapped in the wrist can cause pain and a loss of grip, in addition to pins and needles in hands. Radial nerve palsy and ulnar nerve palsy can also cause tingling. A herniated spinal disc or trapped nerve in the neck can apply pressure on a group of nerves that can cause numbness in the arms and hands.

4. Certain Disease

Diseases like kidney, liver and blood disorders, hypothyroidism, malignant and benign tumors can impinge onto nerves, resulting in tingling in the hands.

5. Injury

Injuries like a fractured bone can compress nearby nerves, resulting in tingling of extremities.

6. Cervical Spondylitis

Wear and tear of bone and tissue in the spine can lead to trapped nerves which can result in pins and needles.

7. Other Causes

  • Autoimmune diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Some cancer treatments, antiviral and antibiotic medicines
  • Some inherited disorders e.g. Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease
  • Certain toxic industrial chemicals and heavy metals like lead and mercury
  • Infections like shingles, cytomegalovirus (CMV) and HIV

When to Seek Medical Help

The occasional case of pins and needles in hands is harmless and resolves spontaneously usually within a few minutes. However, when your pins and needles recur often for no apparent reason, it could indicate a more serious underlying condition. It is also advisable to seek medical attention if your condition worsens, you lose power or feeling in a part of your body, you experience difficulty walking or have unexplained falls.

Diagnosis of Pins and Needles in Hands

  • Your medical professional will take an extensive medical history which will include your exposure to toxins, smoking, alcohol intake, family history of similar or related disorders and risk of infectious diseases, etc.
  • Blood tests will be ordered to diagnose diabetes, check your liver and kidney function, as well as check for any vitamin deficiencies.
  • More comprehensive diagnostics procedures will include a spinal tap to examine spinal fluids, testing the electrical activity of the muscles with an electromyogram (EMG), nerve conduction velocity (NCV), a CT (computed tomography) scan, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), biopsies of the nerves and skin.

How to Relieve Pins and Needles in Hands

Usually treating the cause of the tingling alleviates the symptoms. You can try the following lifestyle changes or medical treatments.

1. Home Care

  • Maintain a healthy weight for your body.
  • Exercise and eat a balanced diet to ensure that no vitamin deficiency presents in your body.
  • Stop smoking to improve blood flow to the peripheral nerves.
  • Avoid excess intake of alcohol to allow nerves to regenerate.
  • Avoid any tight shoes or clothing which may impinge on nerves.
  • Move your limbs around at regular intervals, especially if holding an awkward position where nerves could be trapped.
  • Take good care of your neck and back by maintaining good posture. Avoid lifting heavy objects and repetitive movements by taking regular breaks. Yoga and Pilates help maintain a good posture.
  • Improve your control of your diabetes to minimize the peripheral neuropathy and even promote nerve regeneration.
  • Address your vitamin deficiencies with supplements once your specific deficiencies have been identified with blood tests.
  • Nerve entrapment can be rectified with surgery or physiotherapy, depending upon the severity. This will reduce the pressure on the affected nerves and allow for normal function to return.

2. Medical Treatments

  • Improve your control of your diabetes to minimize the peripheral neuropathy and even promote nerve regeneration.
  • Address your vitamin deficiencies with supplements once your specific deficiencies have been identified with blood tests.
  • Nerve entrapment can be rectified with surgery or physiotherapy, depending upon the severity. This will reduce the pressure on the affected nerves and allow for normal function to return.
 
 
Current time: 09/20/2017 11:07:27 pm (America/New_York) Memory usage: 1716.3KB