Origins of Early Morning Pins and Needles in the Extremities


The feeling of pins and needles in the feet when you get up is an uncomfortable, but often tolerable, sensation that occurs due to an interruption to nerve conduction. A common occurrence in the feet, the pins and needles feeling can be caused by multiple sources and remedied through various treatments.

causes of pins and needles in the feet when you get up
The most prevalent cause of pins and needles in the feet when you get up is simply described as positional pressure. Simply put, the pressure is applied to a nerve in the foot for an extended period of time and the nerve responds by becoming irritated and unable to properly send signals. This can happen from putting pressure on the feet inadvertently such as when sleeping in an awkward position, or from wearing particularly tight footwear.

A second, but less common, cause of the pins and needles feeling is the compression of the nerve caused by the build up of lactic acid. This can occur from standing or walking for an extended period of time, or from more strenuous activities such as running and exercising.

A third and much rarer, but far more severe, cause of pins and needles in the feet is due to nerve disease such as peripheral neuropathy. This occurs due to damage caused to a nerve and generally requires medical treatment.


  1. The most common and simplest remedy is simple awareness and prevention, such as avoiding sleeping in a position that puts pressure on the feet or wearing more accommodating footwear.
  2. For cases caused by lactic acid build up in the feet, stretching the feet and muscles of the legs before and after activities such as running can help reduce the build up or prevent it from forming at all.
  3. Taking regular breaks from standing or walking can provide a much needed rest for lactic acid build up; resting the feet is especially beneficial for people who have standing based jobs.
  4. Massaging the feet can reduce the feeling of pins and needles temporarily by improving circulation and relieving pressure on the affected nerve.
  5. Adding a change in shoes when dealing with positional pressure can also be beneficial; for instance, wearing flip flops can help give the feet more room to move before it gets restricted by tight footwear.
  6. For cases caused by nerve damage, seeking medical advice and taking prescribed treatments such as nerve surgery is often necessary.

The feeling of pins and needles in the feet when you get up is a relatively common, but slightly uncomfortable sensation. Though it can often be addressed with a bit of consideration and preventative measures, more serious cases should be addressed by medical attention.


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