You’re driving down the road when all of the sudden, you feel a painful sensation. Your hands are stabbing from the inside out, turning you into a veritable human pincushion. Motorists and bicyclists may experience pins and needles frequently, especially when covering long distances.

In this article, we’re going to explore some underlying conditions that cause pins and needles, and what you can do about the painful tingling.

Pins and Needles Causes

The pins-and-needles sensation occurs either due to a lack of blood flow to the extremities or due to a compression of the peripheral nerves in the spine or extremities. Ergonomics can contribute to the sensations as well. Prolonged sitting in the same position, excessive computer cause, tight clothes and shoes, smoking, and poor sleep posture can exacerbate feelings of pain and discomfort.

When you drive or sit at a computer your body stays in one position for long periods of time. This can lead to compression of the nerves or blood supply leading to a tingling sensation in your legs, buttocks, back, and/or hands. 

Moving around regularly, stretching, and shifting your posture can help prevent or alleviate the compressions and subsequent tingling and/or numbness. The condition, medically known as paresthesia, best described as a tingling or prickling feeling, often targets extremities like the hands and feet.

We’ll explore causes more at length in a moment. For now, though, let’s look at what you can do to immediately address it and hopefully reestablish circulation.

Take Note of Your Body’s Position

First off, take note of what position your body is in when you feel the symptoms of pins and needles. Is your whole hand tingling or just specific fingers? This will help identify whether it is due to a blood flow issue or nerve compression. 

Riding a bike, for example, can create such issues with the ulnar nerve and affect the pinky and ring finger. Driving a car, in contrast, your arms are elevated and might mean all five fingers experience pins and needles from the pressure of gripping the wheel, or from compression of the neurovascular bundle around the neck or in the cervical spine. 

Release Pressure on the Areas

You’ve noted the specific area of the sensation. Now try releasing the pressure on those areas. Encourage feeling to return to your extremities by wiggling your fingers or slightly shaking your hand until the pins and needles sensation goes away. You can also move your head from side to side, rotating it in both directions, and use flexion and extension to help relieve the pain.

Be Mindful of Other Occasions

Managing the discomfort associated with pins and needles should set your mind at ease if it is easily relieved by changing positions. However, there could be cause for concern if the sensations continue, becoming more frequent and intense. If it starts to carry over into other activities or begins to become more painful and affect other areas like the shoulder blades, then you could be looking at a more significant issue that needs to be assessed. Fortunately, if you’ve been tracking your symptoms, pain levels, body position, and monitored when the issue arises– it will be much easier for your doctor to help diagnose and consider. 

Dealing With Persistent Pins and Needles

What do you do when the sensation is constant, recurs too frequently, and begins to hinder your daily activities? Well, you must be assessed by a physician or chiropractor. 

Consulting with a professional like Dr. Paul Quarneri, who is a Board Certified Chiropractic Neurologist at Neurolink Chiropractic in San Mateo and has more than 25 years of experience working with these conditions can help diagnose the root cause of the issue and the most effective treatment moving forward to resolve your issue. Dr. Quarneri will be able to assess for the many underlying conditions that can account for the frequency, intensity, and persistence of the pins and needles sensation. Common causes are disc herniations, spinal degeneration, arthritis, peripheral neuropathy, and nerve entrapment syndromes. 

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome manifests as pain, tingling, and numbness in the hand and arm. Pressure on the median nerve running from the shoulder to the hand is the usual cause. It’s generally attributed to swelling or inflammation of the tissues around the nerve. 

Repetitive motions or activities (like driving long distances) may also be to blame. The thumb, index finger, middle finger, and half of the ring finger are the usual targets. Avoid holding your hand and arm in the same position for an extended period of time to reduce pain in these areas.


Diabetes happens when your body isn’t adequately producing or using insulin, the hormone that converts food to energy. When a person’s blood sugar gets too high, it wreaks havoc on the blood vessels of the eyes, heart, kidneys, nerves, and extremities (typically the feet, although the hands aren’t immune).

If you experience common symptoms of diabetes like pins and needles stemming from diabetic neuropathy, seek medical attention for a diagnosis, medication, blood sugar monitoring equipment, and a care plan.  

Nerve Palsy

Palsy can occur in many parts of the body. The most widely known – Bell’s Palsy – affects the face. However, nerves connected to the hand experience this phenomenon as well, Handlebar Palsy.  It could be what’s producing chronic recurrences of those pins and needles when driving or at other moments throughout your day.

Answering Why Do My Hands Get Pins and Needles When I Am Driving Leads to the Right Solutions

Finding an answer to the question, “Why do my hands get pins and needles when I am driving?” can lead to vast improvements in your quality of life. So often, it’s an issue that affects the brain, body, or spine. That’s where Neurolink Chiropractic can help. Dr. Paul Quarneri, DC, DACNB, has practiced for more than 25 years to help patients get to the root causes of their nerve issues. He can do the same for you. Contact him today to book an appointment.