This sensation may radiate from your hands or feet into your arms or legs. “Compression of sensory nerves (often while sleeping) is relatively common, and symptoms such as numbness or tingling can be temporary,” says Gupta. But if the pins-and-needles feeling doesn’t go away, get it checked out.
“If motor nerves are affected, then weakness or even paralysis may occur,” says R. Glenn Smith, MD, PhD, a neurologist at Houston Methodist. These same symptoms could also indicate that there’s an underlying issue that needs urgent attention, so it’s best to head to the ER. If it turns out that you’re actually having a stroke, you’ll need medical attention ASAP.
A constant sharp pain, burning, or tingling that starts in the lower back and travels down the back of your leg could mean that you have sciatica —meaning that your sciatic nerve has become compressed, perhaps thanks to a slipped or worn down disc in your spine.
Suddenly stumbling and falling a lot? “If large nerves affecting sensation are damaged, then lack of coordination and failure to sense position of the body can lead to falls,” says Smith. It might also turn out that you have a condition like Parkinson’s, in which the nerve cells in your brain have become damaged.
Damaged nerves can send your bladder faulty messages, so you feel like you have to pee a lot or have trouble making it to the restroom in time. You have a higher than average risk of this problem if you gave birth to a child vaginally or have diabetes.
6. You get brief, intense headaches that feel like electric shocks.
You may have something called occipital neuralgia, a condition that can occur when a nerve in your neck gets pinched. You may need a nerve block—an injection that temporarily blocks the troublesome nerve from transmitting pain signals.
It might be a sign that the nerves carrying info from your brain to your sweat glands have become compromised. Your doctor might order tests to measure your sweating and heart rate.
Sensory nerves are supposed to tell your brain that a surface is dangerous in some way, and if they’re not doing their job properly you could seem more accident-prone. If you have burns, cuts, or other trauma because you didn’t realize that you were touching something hot, sharp, or otherwise uncomfortable, see your doc, says Smith.