Why Do We Get Pins and Needles in Fingertips?

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Sometimes we can experience pins and needles in fingertips due to certain reasons. Medically, this symptom could be ‘paraesthesia’. The most important thing is when to see a doctor since it may also signal certain health conditions! If this symptom comes frequently without known reason or lasts longer than usual, you should not ignore it!

It may also come with a sensation of burning, pricking, numbness or tingling. Feet, hands, and arms are some common sites of the body affected.

Normal pins and needles

Anyone can experience this symptom from time to time, which is perfectly normal since it is temporary and will go away on its own.

In general, it occurs when the blood supply that flows to the nerves of the affected part of the body is temporarily blocked due to a pressure applied to that area. This blockage may affect the way of the nerve’s mechanism in sending the signals to the brain. As a result, you’re likely to experience pins and needles.

Kneeling for hours, for example, is often associated with pins and needles. This prolonged position would cause more pressure to the legs , obstructing the supply of blood to the nerves of lower legs. Fortunately, this is only temporary – once you take the pressure off, the blood supply will go back to normal, and your tingling /numbness sensation will also relieve naturally.

When is it considered abnormal (chronic paraesthesia)?

If pins and needles in fingertips are long lasting, don’t ignore them – seek and find medical help to confirm the underlying cause of the problem!

Chronic tingling or numbness that lasts over a long period of time could be a sign of certain health problems, which may include [reference]:

  1. Certain infections – such as Lyme disease and HIV /AIDS.
  2. Raynaud’s phenomenon, a health problem affecting blood vessels.
  3. Hypothyroidism, diabetes, or other types of metabolic disease.
  4. Rheumatoid arthritis or other problems associated with connective tissue.
  5. An inflammation that affect the nerves – such as neuritis.
  6. The nerve-entrapment disorders, like sciatica or carpal tunnel syndrome.
  7. Atherosclerosis, a cardiovascular problem.
  8. Multiple sclerosis.
  9. Stroke and mini stroke.
  10. A health problem of spinal cord, such as transverse myelitis.
  11. Brain abscess.
  12. Encephalitis
  13. Brain tumor.
  14. Etc.

Sometimes persistent paraesthesia develops after an injury – especially after getting a serious injury that directly affects the nerves. Taking certain medications, such as chemotherapy and anticonvulsant medications may also increase the risk.

The following are other possible causes of a long lasting paraesthesia:

  1. Abusing alcohol.
  2. The existence of abnormal cells in the body (cancer).
  3. Having lack of certain essential nutrients, such as vitamin B12.
  4. Excessive exposure to certain toxic substance or radiation.

Other symptoms that may co-exist with pins & needles?

Sometimes pins and needles condition is not only about numbness, burning, or tingling – it may also be followed with other symptoms, depending on what causes the problem. Some of these symptoms may include:

  1. The affected site is more sensitive to touch.
  2. Muscle spasms.
  3. Rash.
  4. Increased anxiety.
  5. Increased urge to urinate.
  6. Discomfort or pain in the affected area.

You may also notice that the intensity of your pins & needles increase while performing a task, particularly a task that involves the affected part of your fingertips.

Can chronic paraesthesia be potentially life-threatening?

Paraesthesia is usually mild and doesn’t seriously hurt the body. But the story could be different for persistent paraesthesia.

Listen your body, if the symptom persists or doesn’t improve with lifestyle measures, seek medical help promptly! In such case, it may signal certain health conditions.

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