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Why do We Get Pins and Needles?

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The strange sensation most people call pins and needles is your body’s way of telling you that you need to relieve that compression. Here’s why we get pins and needles.

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There you are, doing your couch potato thing with your feet up, watching a couple of your favourite back-to-back TV series. You suddenly notice cold numbness in your legs and feet, almost as if they’ve fallen asleep long before you. A ninja kick or two usually sorts the nasty numbness, but what is with the uncomfortable stinging, tingling prickly sensation that follows?

The exact mechanics behind this strange sensation most people call pins and needles is still uncertain, comments Stellenbosch University medical physiologist Dr Derick van Vuuren.

He says pins and needles (called parasthesia from the Greek word meaning “disordered perception”), usually happens when sensory nerves, especially ones involved with the perception of touch and pain, are compressed.

“The sensation itself is your body’s way of telling you that you need to relieve that compression,” he explains.

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