If you’ve ever felt like needles were poking your hands, arms, feet, or legs, you’re not alone. Many members on myRAteam describe feeling a pins-and-needles sensation in their limbs or elsewhere in their bodies, usually intermittently. This prickling feeling, known as peripheral neuropathy, is caused by nerve damage in the limbs and extremities. Peripheral neuropathy can be caused by several factors, including inflammation and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) flares. Many health conditions associated with RA can also affect the nerves. These include:
MyRAteam members describe the discomfort, tingling, numb, and prickling feelings that come with their RA in many ways. One member described the feeling as “random tingling or sharp poking all over my body.” Another experiences “burning tingling.” “The best I can describe the feeling is like when you put cold hands in warm water,” a third member explained.
Members encourage each other to see a doctor to help determine the cause of these uncomfortable sensations. “Get a doctor to assist you in treating this,” a myRAteam member wrote to another experiencing tingling in her lower limbs. “Left untreated it can become permanent and interfere with balance.” “You may need to see a neurologist to check the nerves for further issues down the road,” another member added.
Your doctor may refer you to a specialist or order testing to help determine the reason for the tingling, whether it is RA or another condition. Your doctor may also prescribe medications to treat the pins-and-needles sensations.
Regardless of the source, pins-and-needles feelings, tingling, or prickling can be painful and disruptive for myRAteam members, especially when they interfere with sleep. “I was up all night with intermittent pain in my right hand followed by a feeling of complete numbness/tingling in three of my fingers 😩,” one myRAteam member wrote.
“I wake up at night with my hands and arms asleep (numb and tingling),” another member posted. “They are taking longer and longer to wake up. Last night I woke up and my left hand was numb, so when I tried to move it, I had excruciating pain.”
Pins-and-needles pain makes it difficult for some myRAteam members to walk or stand. “I am lucky to walk for five minutes at a time and never without a lot of pain, numbness, and tingling in my legs,” one member wrote. Another commented, “I also get to the stage where I cannot stand on my feet as they seem to have permanent severe pins and needles.”
Tingling in the arms and hands can make basic tasks painful or difficult. A member with numbness and tingling in her fingers wrote, “my grip is also terrible on that hand as a result!”
Some myRAteam members have found relief with medications prescribed by their doctors. “My doc put me on a relatively small dose of an anticonvulsant. It works great for nerve pain,” one member shared. “It gets me through and helps me to walk!!”
Members with prickling pain from carpal tunnel suggest hacks for getting through the night. “Hand and arm braces while you sleep work wonders!” one member recommended. Another shared her sleeping solution, “I lie on my side on my bed and dangle my arms over the side of the bed. It helps tingles and definitely keeps pain and stiffness down in the morning.”
On myRAteam, the social network and online support group for those living with rheumatoid arthritis, members talk about a range of personal experiences and struggles. Pins-and-needles sensations are among the most discussed topics.
Here are some conversations about pins and needles sensations:
Do you have pins and needles pricking in your arms, legs, or elsewhere on your body? How do you manage the discomfort? Share your thoughts and experiences below in the comments. You can also join or log in and post on myRAteam.
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