Pins & needles in hands during pregnancy

While pregnant, your body changes in dramatic ways--joints relax, blood supply increases, skin pigmentation darkens. These changes have side effects and can create sensations that are disconcerting and worrisome, but often not indicative of a serious issue. Feeling numbness or tingling in the hands, as an example, can be frightening but rarely is it a reason for concern. Understanding why the "pins and needles" feeling is occurring along with ideas for treatments might ameliorate the worry.

Primary Cause

The causes for a pins and needles sensation in the hands (and sometimes the feet) can be twofold. First, the body has slightly sluggish venous return of blood because of the pregnant body's increased blood supply and the tendency to retain water. Tissues that surround nerves become edematous, or filled with fluid, creating pressure on the nerves. The pressure on wrist nerves results in tingling or numbness of the hands, particularly the thumb and first two fingers. This sensation is called carpal tunnel syndrome and affects many pregnant women.

Other Causes

While carpal tunnel syndrome is the most likely culprit of tingling in the hands for pregnant women, nutritional deficiencies also can cause this symptom. Your body has great nutritional demands while pregnant, which can sometimes result in deficiencies in minerals, causing the sensation of tingling, or pins and needles, in your hands. Magnesium deficiency can cause tingling in the hands, along with a host of other symptoms. Anemia, or iron deficiency, can also cause tingling in the hands and feet.


Your doctor or midwife needs to be informed about any bothersome pregnancy symptoms, including a pins and needles sensation in your hands. He will likely want to draw blood to rule out any untoward cause and make sure your blood mineral levels are adequate. Additionally, he may refer you to a specialist or physical therapist if it seems that your tingling is extreme or of serious concern.

Treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Treatment for tingling hands depends upon the cause. For carpal tunnel syndrome, behaviour management is usually recommended. Allow your hands to rest frequently during the day; this can be especially effective if you use your hands and fingers in your activities of daily living. When you type, use support to ensure that your wrists are in a neutral position--not angled upward. Cold compresses are a helpful tool to help relieve the discomfort, and a wrist splint can sometimes help. If your pain and tinging is extreme, then your doctor or midwife might recommend that you receive cortisone injections.

Treatment for Deficiencies

Treatment for mineral deficiencies is often easier for you to solve. Talk to your doctor or midwife about increasing your dietary intake of the mineral in which you are deficient. Foods that contain magnesium include almonds, cashews, spinach, halibut and peanut butter. Iron-rich foods include leafy green vegetables, red meat, egg yolks and iron-enriched cereal 2. Sometimes your doctor or midwife might recommend a mineral supplement to help your body's mineral levels return to normal more quickly.


The pins and needles sensation in your hands is usually a fleeting symptom of pregnancy. Because both pregnancy's physiologic effects and nutritional demands last only as long as the pregnancy, your body will likely return to normal after the baby is born. If your symptoms continue, consult with your doctor or midwife to determine the next step.