Pins and Needles in the Legs and Feet
Most of us have had the sensation of pins and needles happen a few times in our lifetime. We’ve likely experienced it when we fall asleep on our arm or cross our legs for too long.
An occasional pins and needles feeling is probably nothing to worry about. However, when pins and needles happen regularly, and they start interfering with your daily life, it’s time to evaluate the problem. If pins and needles occur in your legs, for instance, it can affect your ability to walk or stand safely, and you may have more falls.
Symptoms associated with pins and needles
Persistent pins and needles pain can affect your quality of life, so it is useful to know the possible causes for this condition. Common symptoms of pins and needles (also known medically as paresthesia) include:
Peripheral Artery Disease or PAD
Tingling and numbness in the feet are common symptoms of poor circulation, medically diagnosed as Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD).
PAD happens when there is a build-up of plaque or cholesterol in your arteries, reducing blood supply to the nerves and causing poor circulation.
As your circulation reduces, you may experience frequent pins and needles sensations - a warning sign that you need to get the blood flowing better and improve the circulation in your body. You might also have other leg pains, and the colour of the skin on your legs and feet might change.
When there is poor circulation, fluid often builds up in the lower legs. This can put pressure on the nerves causing pins and needles. Over time, the fluid build-up and reduced circulation can damage the nerves in your legs and feet.
REVITIVE has been proven to deliver clinical benefits for people medically diagnosed with PAD. Speak to your health care professional to learn more.
Diabetes is another common cause of pins and needles because the disease damages the small blood vessels in your extremities. According to Better Health Victoria, half of the people with diabetes will develop neuropathy1.
It’s important to address this problem, medically known as diabetic peripheral neuropathy, because neuropathy can cause nerve damage. Diabetic peripheral neuropathy symptoms can range from the unpleasant sensation of chronic pins and needles, numbness or burning sensation to pain and discomfort.
What are the other causes of pins and needles?
This list isn’t exhaustive, and there are other causes of pins and needles. Talk to your doctor to help you determine the cause of your symptoms.
Carrying around extra weight on your body will naturally put additional pressure on the nerves, impacting circulation as well. This can reduce blood flow to the extremities and produce painful symptoms of pins and needles, as well as numbness.
Today, many of us do not eat balanced meals so it isn’t unusual to be deficient in some vitamins and minerals. When our bodies are short on critical vitamins like Vitamins B12 and D, we can develop nerve damage and pain from pins and needles in our bodies.
Excessive drinking can affect food choices leading to nutrient deficiencies. Too much alcohol can also damage the nerves causing pins and needles feeling, or a tingling sensation in the legs.
Finding relief for the symptoms of restless legs
Your healthcare professional is best-suited to determine if something is causing the sensations of pins and needles in your body. Discuss with them the steps you can take yourself to help relieve your symptoms.
Eat a balanced, healthy diet
Ask your doctor about the best dietary approach if you have diabetes or deficiencies in certain nutrients. For instance, a low fat, low sugar and high fibre diet is good for diabetics.
If you have a low Vitamin B12 level, eat a diet rich in B12, including meat, chicken, fish, eggs, milk, and yogurt. A dietician can help you plan healthy nutritious meals.
Avoid or reduce alcohol intake
Alcohol has a detrimental effect on your nerves and can lead to the symptoms of neuropathy, such as tingling and pins and needles. If you quit drinking alcohol, you may relieve your current symptoms and prevent further deterioration.
Improve your circulation
Going for daily walks and moving around more is good for your health. If you haven’t been walking, start slow – even just a few minutes a day is better than none at all – and slowly work up to 30 minutes of walking everyday.
Before you start any exercise, especially if you have not been active physically, talk to your doctor about a safe walking programme. More exercise and a balanced diet might also help you get to a healthier weight - lessening the stress on your nerves and further improving your circulation.
Disclaimer: This content is not intended as medical advice. We believe in helping people to make informed decisions about their health. We hope to empower you to ask your doctor the right questions so you can both agree on a treatment plan that’s right for you.
- Web article on Diabetic Neuropathy, https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/
- Web article on Pins and Needles, https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/
- Web article on Tingling in the Hands and Feet, https://www.webmd.com/brain/tingling-in-hands-and-feet
- Web article on What is Paresthesia, https://www.healthline.com/health/paresthesia
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