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Tingling / pins and needles is known as paresthesia. This is the altered sensation that usually occurs for a short period of time where the nerve’s blood supply has been cut off or reduced. This can happen if a posture is held, such as sitting on a foot. As soon as the blood is released back to the nerve paresthesia is a short term effect. Some people experience pins and needles for no apparent reason and have the altered sensation constantly. The most common cause of paresthesia is when there is pressure on the nerve. This may be as a result of swelling or inflammation from surrounding structures.

Assessment of shoulder impingement to treat altered sensation in the arm and handAbove: Assessment of shoulder impingement to treat altered sensation in the arm and hand

Causes of Pins and Needles

A temporary symptom of pins and needles usually resolves itself once the blood supply to the nerve has been restored or the pressure has been released. This symptom would benefit from Physiotherapy input if chronic / recurrent. There are many causes for recurrent pins and needles. Some of the causes can include:

How can Physiotherapy help with Pins and Needles?

Physiotherapy may be able to decrease the sensation of pins and needles through the following:
  • Assessing the cause of pins and needles
  • Providing treatments for the potential cause
  • Ergonomic advice
  • Postural advice
  • Decreasing swelling and pressure on the nerve
  • Decreasing inflammation
Dependent upon the cause of pins and needles will depend upon how physiotherapy can help. If the cause appears to be a central nervous system problem then the Physiotherapists at can signpost to the most effective service.

Mobilisations of the knee joint to relieve any impingement causing pins and needles sensation.Above: Mobilisations of the knee joint to relieve any impingement causing pins and needles sensation.

What Physiotherapy Treatments can be expected for Pins and Needles?

There are a variety of treatments which can be used to help treat the symptom of paresthesia. Some of the treatments which could be beneficial (dependent upon cause) are:


Pins and needles is a symptom which is produced by a variety of causes. Frequent or constant paresthesia would benefit from an expert physiotherapy assessment and treatment as appropriate. have specialised physiotherapist who have experience of treating this symptom. For an appointment please contact us or call 0330 088 7800 to arrange an appointment.

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