Have you ever had pins and needles? You know, that strange tingling sensation in your hands and feet that sort of feels like someone is scratching you with tiny pointy things until you start to go numb? Or, like little ants are crawling inside your skin? Yeah, well, you aren’t alone.
When your foot “falls asleep” after you’ve crossed your legs for hours after watching your home movies or your arm “goes numb” after you’ve positioned it in a strange way at your computer all day, that uncomfortable feeling when you finally try moving said extremity is referred to as paresthesia. And while it’s not exactly painful, it’s definitely not pleasurable either. So, what is it and why does it happen?
What Is It?
As you know, there are thousands of nerves zinging around inside of you. And these biological highways are what the brain uses to provide information to the body—and vice versa.
Why Does it Happen?
When we place too much weight or pressure on one part of our body (like that foot that “fall asleep” or the arm that “goes numb”), we temporarily pinch the nerves that run through them.
When we do this, we essentially interrupt the communication back and forth from brain to body, which tells us when a limb is exacerbated or that our circulation in that area is low. The nerves temporarily can’t receive oxygenated blood they need from the heart, but as soon as we wiggle our fingers or try standing on our feet, the blood flows back into the limbs, firing the backlogged information and causing a rush of “pins and needles” through us.
How to Deal:
Try switching up your sleeping, sitting, and standing positions. Be sure not lean too much on one hip when standing or cross one leg for too long while seated at a desk. All in all, keep yourself moving. Remaining still for any extended period of time can cause all kinds of blood flow problems, so it’s best to keep your body active.
That said, know that “pins and needles” is totally normal and not anything worth worrying about. Next time the tingles scatter up your sleeve and you feel like ants are dancing on your feet, just shake it out and laugh at the strange complexities of our inner workings.