Feels like pins and needles in my stomach

Abdominal Pain

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Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Sep 24, 2019.

  • Care Notes
  • Overview

What is it?

Abdominal (ab-dom-ih-null) pain is also called belly pain. You can have pain inside or outside your abdomen. Pain is your body’s way of reacting to injury or illness. Everybody reacts to pain in different ways. What you think is painful may not be painful to someone else. But, pain is whatever you say it is!


  • Many things can cause pain in your abdomen. The pain may be due to a serious problem or by something as simple as gas. It can be caused by nerves being stretched, or by appendicitis. A woman may have belly pain with her monthly period. Diarrhea or constipation may cause you to have pain in your belly.
  • An injury or a stomach or bowel infection may cause belly pain. Things you eat or drink may cause your stomach to be upset and cause belly pain. Sometimes it is not known what is causing your pain.

What are the different types of pain?

Pain may be acute or chronic.

  • Acute pain is short-lived and usually lasts less than 3 months. Caregivers help first work to remove the cause of the pain, such as fixing a broken arm. Acute pain can usually be controlled or stopped with pain medicine.
  • Chronic pain lasts longer than 3 to 6 months. This kind of pain is often more complex. Caregivers may use medicines along with other treatments, like relaxation therapies to help your pain.

Signs and Symptoms:

The pain may be sharp, dull, aching, burning, or cramping. It may stay in the same place in your belly or spread to your back or chest. The pain may come and go or be present all the time. At first, the pain may not bother you. But it may get more painful. You may feel nauseated (upset stomach), vomit (throw up), have diarrhea, or a fever.

What is your abdominal pain like?

Caregivers want you to talk to them about your abdominal pain. This helps them learn what may be causing the pain and how best to treat it. Tell caregivers your answers to the following questions.

  • Where does it hurt? Where does it not hurt? Does the pain move from one area to another?
  • How would you rate the pain on a scale of 0 to 10? (0 is no pain, and 10 is the worst pain you ever had.)
  • How does the pain feel? Try to choose words that tell caregivers what type of pain you have. Is the pain sharp, cramping, twisting, squeezing, or crushing? Or, is the pain stabbing, burning, dull, numb, or “pins-and-needles” feeling?
  • When did the pain start? Did it begin quickly or slowly? Is the pain steady or does it come and go?
  • How often does the pain bother you and how long does it last?
  • Does the pain effect your daily life? Can you still work in spite of the pain?
  • Does the pain wake you from sleep?
  • Do certain things or activities cause the pain to start or get worse like coughing or touching the area?
  • Does the pain come before, during, or after meals?
  • Does anything lessen the pain like changing positions, resting, medicines, or changing what you eat?


Your caregiver will ask you questions and check your abdomen. Blood, urine, or BM tests may be done. You may have x-rays of your abdomen. You may need to go into the hospital for more tests and treatment. Pain medicine may be needed to help the pain in your belly. Sometimes surgery is needed to treat abdominal pain.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your abdominal pain, what is causing it, and how it can be treated. You can then discuss treatment options with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care will be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Medical Disclaimer

Pins And Needles Anxiety Symptoms

Written by: Jim Folk.
Medically reviewed by: Marilyn Folk, BScN.
Last updated: December 8, 2019

Pins and needles anxiety symptom description:

This symptom can persistently affect one area only, can shift and affect another area or areas, and can migrate all over and affect many areas over and over again.

This symptom can come and go rarely, occur frequently, or persist indefinitely. For example, you may feel a pins and needles feeling once in a while and not that often, feel it off and on, or feel it all the time.

This symptom may precede, accompany, or follow an escalation of other anxiety sensations and symptoms, or occur by itself.

This symptom can precede, accompany, or follow an episode of nervousness, anxiety, fear, and elevated stress, or occur ‘out of the blue’ and for no apparent reason.

This symptom can range in intensity from slight, to moderate, to severe. It can also come in waves, where it’s strong one moment and eases off the next.

This symptom can change from day to day, and/or from moment to moment.

All of the above combinations and variations are common.

These types of symptoms often seem more disconcerting when undistracted or when trying to rest or go to sleep.

This anxiety symptom is often described as:

  • pins and needles
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What causes the pins and needles tingling feeling?

Medical Advisory

There are many causes for this pins and needles feeling. Common causes include:

  • Hyperventilation
  • Hypoventilation
  • Pinched nerve
  • Circulation problems
  • Reaction to medication
  • Allergic reaction
  • Tight muscles
  • A variety of medical illnesses
  • Vitamin B deficiency

Yes, the stress caused by anxious behavior can cause this symptom. In fact, feeling a pins and needles sensation is a common symptom of anxiety.

Stress, including anxiety-caused stress, can cause the pins and needles feeling in a number of ways, including:

  • An active stress response and persistent stress causes muscles to tighten, which can cause a pins and needles feeling in the extremities or any other area of the body.
  • An active stress response and persistent stress causes blood vessels to tighten, which can also cause a pins and needles feeling to occur anywhere on or in the body.
  • An active stress response and persistent stress changes how we breathe. Breathing more shallowly or quickly can cause hypo- and hyperventilation, which can cause a pins and needles feeling to occur anywhere on or in the body.
  • An active stress response and persistent stress adversely affects the body’s nervous system, which can also cause a pins and needles feeling to occur anywhere on or in the body.

How to get rid of the pins and needles feeling symptom?

When this feeling is caused by anxiety and the accompanying stress response changes, calming yourself down will bring an end to the stress response and its changes. As your body recovers from the active stress response, this feeling should subside and you should return to your normal self.

Keep in mind that it can take up to 20 minutes or more for the body to recover from a major stress response. But this is normal and shouldn’t be a cause for concern.

When this feeling is caused by persistent stress, it may take a lot more time for the body to recover and to the point where this symptom is eliminated.

Nevertheless, when the body has fully recovered, this feeling will completely subside. Therefore, this symptom needn’t be a cause for concern.

You can speed up the recovery process by reducing your stress, practicing relaxed breathing, increasing your rest and relaxation, and not worrying about this feeling. Sure, it can be unsettling and even bothersome. But again, when your body has recovered from the stress response and/or sustained stress, this symptom will completely disappear.


If you are having difficulty with anxiety, its symptoms, and troublesome worry, you might want to connect with one of our recommended anxiety disorder therapists. Working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist is the most effective way to overcome problematic anxiety.

All of our recommended therapists have experienced anxiety disorder, have successfully overcome it, and are medication-free. Their years of personal and professional experience make them an excellent choice to work with on your road to recovery.

The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist is the most effective way to address anxiety disorder and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed – the underlying factors that motivate apprehensive behavior – a struggle with anxiety disorder can return again and again. Identifying and successfully addressing anxiety’s underlying factors is the best way to overcome problematic anxiety.

Additional Resources:

  • For a comprehensive list of Anxiety Disorders Symptoms Signs, Types, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment.
  • Anxiety and panic attacks symptoms can be powerful experiences. Find out what they are and how to stop them.
  • How to stop an anxiety attack and panic.
  • Free online anxiety tests to screen for anxiety. Two minute tests with instant results. Such as:
    • Anxiety Test
    • Anxiety Disorder Test
    • OCD Test
    • Social Anxiety Test
    • Generalized Anxiety Test
  • Anxiety 101 is a summarized description of anxiety, anxiety disorder, and how to overcome it.

Return to Anxiety Disorder Symptoms section.

Thread: Weird “numb” feeling on lower left stomach

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The patient’s presentation, examination, and clinical testing results are classic for an attack of acute porphyria.

The porphyrias are a group of inherited diseases caused by deficiency of enzymes of the heme synthetic pathway (figure), resulting in accumulation of porphyrins and their precursors.1 The porphyrias are divided into the acute hepatic porphyrias and the erythropoietic porphyrias. The acute hepatic porphyrias are most relevant for neurologists because of their neurologic manifestations, whereas the erythropoietic porphyrias do not cause neurologic symptoms.1 The acute hepatic porphyrias include ADP (ALA dehydratase deficiency porphyria), AIP, HCP (hereditary coproporphyria), and VP (variegate porphyria) (figure).1 The most common acute porphyria is AIP, an autosomal dominant disorder with low penetrance (estimated between 10% and 50%).2,3 Individuals who do manifest symptoms typically do so after a “second hit,” such as an environmental trigger (certain medications, stress, hormonal changes, and starvation) or other unknown factors.1,2 Our patient had started using oral contraception about a month before onset of abdominal symptoms, a possible trigger for the attack.

Enzymatic steps and intermediates of the heme synthetic pathway

The first step in heme synthesis is the synthesis of δ-aminolevulinic acid (ALA) from succinyl coenzyme A and glycine. ALA is then metabolized to porphobilinogen (PBG) by ALA dehydratase (ALAD). Mutations in ALAD cause ALA dehydratase deficiency porphyria (ADP), an exceptionally rare condition. PBG is then converted to hydroxymethylbilane (HMB) by HMB synthase (HMBS). Mutations in HMBS cause acute intermittent porphyria (AIP), the most common acute hepatic porphyria. Note that HMBS is also known as PBG deaminase. ALA and PBG accumulate during acute attacks of AIP. The other acute hepatic porphyrias are hereditary coproporphyria (HCP), which is caused by mutations in CPOX (CPG oxidase, the enzyme that catalyzes the formation of PPG IX from CPG III), and variegate porphyria (VP), which is caused by mutations in PPOX (PPG oxidase, the enzyme that catalyzes the formation of PP IX from PPG IX). Mutations in the other enzymes that are part of the heme synthetic pathway cause erythropoietic porphyrias and are not represented here. Note that heme acts as a direct negative feedback on the formation of ALA. CPG = coproporphyrinogen; PP = protoporphyrin; PPG = protoporphyrinogen; UPG = uroporphyrinogen.

The neurologic manifestations of the acute hepatic porphyrias are due to acute increases in the concentration of the heme precursors ALA (δ-aminolevulinic acid) and PBG (porphobilinogen) (figure). The typical neuropathy is an acute or subacute motor axonopathy predominantly affecting proximal muscles and generally worse in the arms than the legs.1 Maximum involvement is usually reached within 4 weeks of symptom onset. Cranial nerves are involved in approximately 75% of cases. Ventilatory muscle weakness is common. Sensory symptoms are reported in about 60% of patients in either a proximal “bathing-trunk” or a “stocking and glove” pattern. Symptoms of weakness are usually preceded by episodes of abdominal pain secondary to autonomic neuropathy.1 Nausea, vomiting, constipation, and diarrhea may be caused by gastroparesis and pseudo-obstruction secondary to splanchnic autonomic neuropathy. Other symptoms of autonomic dysfunction include tachycardia, hypertension or postural hypotension, urinary retention, and diaphoresis. CNS involvement manifests as a wide spectrum of psychiatric symptoms, which include irritability, depression, hallucinations, and delirium. When psychiatric symptoms dominate an acute presentation, misdiagnosis is common.4 Seizures are also possible.5 HCP and VP manifestations may also include photosensitive dermatologic lesions, which are not present in ADP and AIP. Discoloration of urine on exposure to light is common and is due to increased urinary porphyrins.

Porphyric neuropathy can mimic other acute neuropathies, particularly when abdominal symptoms are minor or absent.5 Clinical clues to the presence of acute porphyria include the distribution of the weakness (with predilection of proximal arm muscles initially, rather than ascending weakness as in GBS), the history of recurrent attacks, and the presence of associated psychiatric symptoms and discolored urine. CSF examination can be normal or demonstrate elevated protein without pleocytosis. Deep tendon reflexes can be normal or depressed. Nerve conduction studies can be normal or show a pattern of motor predominant axonal neuropathy without demyelinating features.6 EMG shows patchy denervation and chronic reinnervation changes.6

The porphyrias can be diagnosed by measurement of urinary ALA and PBG levels, which are increased during an acute attack.7 A qualitative assay can be performed first but must be followed by quantitative measurements performed after a 24-hour urine collection. The urine collection for quantitative analysis should be protected from light, refrigerated, and sent to a laboratory with special expertise in porphyria diagnosis. Genetic testing should be performed to confirm the diagnosis.7 The phenotype of acute porphyrias varies even within families and penetrance is low.2,3 Nonetheless, knowledge about the mutation allows screening of asymptomatic family members at risk, an important management issue because early diagnosis and knowledge about precipitating factors can help diminish the morbidity of the disease.7

Management of an acute episode includes stopping attack triggers, supportive therapy, and downregulation of the heme synthetic pathway.8 The list of medications that may induce a porphyric attack is extensive and can be found on a few dedicated Web sites.9,–12 Supportive therapy includes management of complications such as hyponatremia, hypertension, tachycardia, pain, and seizures.8 Downregulation of the heme synthetic pathway is accomplished by carbohydrate loading (because glucose inhibits ALA synthesis) and/or administration of hematin.8 Hematin replenishes the depleted heme pool and provides negative feedback on the heme synthetic pathway, thus reducing the production of the porphyrin precursors. The use of a medical alert bracelet should be considered to prevent future administration of potentially toxic medications. With prompt diagnosis and treatment, most patients recover from the acute neuropathy, with a small percentage developing a chronic neuropathy, but serious complications can occur with delayed management.2,13 Our patient was transferred to an acute rehabilitation hospital and underwent multidisciplinary rehabilitation over a 3-week period. At discharge, she was able to walk independently but still required help with activities of daily living secondary to bilateral proximal upper extremity weakness. The patient then moved out of state and long-term follow-up is not available.

Get Connected

By Jennifer Jensen

In 2016, the cesarean (C-section) delivery rate for births in the U.S. was 31.9 percent, meaning approximately one in three women gave birth via C-section, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many women prepare for side effects of labor and delivery, but women who give birth via C-section can expect different side effects than those associated with a vaginal birth.

Dr. Joseph Iobst from All About Women Obstetrics and Gynecology said women who deliver their babies via C-section will have a longer hospital stay, intense abdominal pain for the first week, a longer recovery time and a higher risk for infection. While many women have prepared for these better-known side effects of a C-section, there is a side effect that is not as known and is therefore often less prepared for.

Numbness near the incision site is a side effect that many women do not expect after a C-section and is a common side effect for many women, according to Dr. Iobst. Numbness occurs because, “small nerves get transected during surgery for the C-section,” he said. Due to the nerves being transected (completely severed), women will experience numbness near the incision site because the nerves are no longer functional, and some women may also experience itching near the site. To calm itchy skin, you can hold an ice pack (or ice) wrapped in a towel to the area for about five to 10 minutes.

Unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done to prevent the numbness women will experience following a C-section birth, Dr. Iobst said. Fortunately, the feeling will return as the nerves regrow, usually within several months, but recovery time varies and is dependent on each individual patient.

Justine Pearson, Gainesville mother of two, had both of her children via C-section and experienced numbness after each delivery, but said feeling did eventually return each time. For her, feeling near the incision site after the birth of her first child did not return until shortly before the birth of her second child, a little more than two and a half years later.

Gainesville mother of four, Joni Hubbard also experienced numbness at the incision site following her C-sections with all four of her sons, but said feeling never returned. The whole area was numb for six weeks after surgery and then it was just the incision site. “There is just no sensation there … it doesn’t bother me” she said.

Many women may be concerned about lifting their infant and the pain it could potentially cause after a C-section, but there are ways to do it safely. The Harvard School of Medicine recommends what they call a “football hold” where the baby’s body is under your arm and the head near your chest, which helps keep the baby’s weight off of your C-section incision. Once you are able, try walking to help ease some of the post-cesarean pains and discomfort. According to Nemours Hospital, walking helps blood circulation and promotes cell regeneration and growth to help the incision site to heal faster as well as prevent blood clots and constipation.

As with any type of surgery, remember your body needs time to heal completely. Before you know it, you will be running around and life will return to normal — well, as normal as life can be with a newborn!

Got a pins-and-needles tingle? Here’s what it means

Paresthesia typically happens if you lie on a nerve while asleep or hold the same position for too long while sitting—like when you’re driving or reading.

Dutch feet?

When Dr. Paul Twydell came to work at Spectrum Health a few years ago, he noticed he was seeing a lot of patients with hereditary neuropathy.

Then he realized why: It’s because of the prevalence of people of Dutch heritage in West Michigan.

“In Grand Rapids, we see a lot of Dutch people with high arches and hammer toes, which can be an indication of hereditary neuropathy,” he said.

The good news is that hereditary neuropathy “progresses at a glacial pace,” Dr. Twydell said.

If the feeling goes away quickly, this phenomenon is called transient paresthesia, and it’s typically nothing to worry about.

People will wake up with tingling in their hands and think they have a circulation problem, Dr. Twydell said, but that’s not the case.

“It’s just that a nerve is being compressed in the wrist or elbow. And the reason it happens at night is we often sleep with our wrist or elbow flexed or underneath us, or in a strange position.”

A nerve is a bundle of “wires” surrounded by a layer of insulation called myelin, Dr. Twydell explained. Myelin helps speed the movement of electricity along the nerve.

“When that myelin is compressed, that means the messages aren’t getting through very well,” he said. “A lot of times it’s when the compression is released that (the tingling) happens”—as communication is being restored along the nerve.

The nerves most prone to compression are found in the wrist, elbow, knee and upper arm.

If it’s persistent or abnormal

So when might numbness or tingling be a cause for concern? Dr. Twydell recommends that people talk to their doctor if they experience any of the following:

  • Persistent numbness or tingling in the hands. This is often a sign of carpal tunnel syndrome, which is treatable—the sooner the better to avoid severe damage and the need for surgery.
  • Tingling in the feet, especially at night. This might be an early sign of a degenerative nerve disease called peripheral neuropathy, which is most often caused by diabetes or heredity. Neuropathy isn’t reversible, but it can sometimes be slowed down, Dr. Twydell said.
  • Weakness of a limb in conjunction with numbness. This can be a sign of more severe damage to a nerve.
  • Numbness or tingling that ascends up the legs or into the abdomen. This can be a sign of spinal cord inflammation or compression.
  • Numbness involving half of the body or face. This can be an indicator of stroke, which requires emergency care. Call 911.

If you have persistent symptoms of numbness or tingling, your doctor may order a test of the nerves called electromyography, or EMG. This nerve study can help pinpoint the source of a problem and help guide treatment.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is the most common problem investigated by Spectrum Health Medical Group Neurology in the EMG lab, Dr. Twydell said.

Tips for good nerve health

Your best bet is to avoid activities that cause prolonged nerve compression, Dr. Twydell said. Change positions frequently. Get up and walk around throughout your workday.

“If nerves are compressed over and over again, you can have more persistent symptoms that can eventually lead to weakness or disability,” he said.

Here are Dr. Twydell’s tips for preventing that numb or tingling feeling in your extremities:

  • Wear wrist splints at night to ease problems with carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Avoid lying on your elbow while sleeping, and try wearing an elbow pad to bed to keep the elbow straight.
  • Don’t cross your legs, with one knee draped over the other. That can compress the fibular nerve, which can lead to foot drop, a cause of tripping.
  • Avoid the habit of sleeping with your arm stretched out or underneath your partner. Over time this can damage the radial nerve, leading to wrist drop.
  • Avoid leaning on your elbows for extended periods. Try adding gel pads to the armrests of chairs, wheelchairs or cars.
  • If you do a lot of computer work, use a gel wrist rest. Avoid holding the wrists in either a flexed or an extended position, which can damage the median nerve.
  • Eat a well-balanced, low-carb diet. This is especially important for people with diabetes, who are more prone to neuropathies.
  • Avoid alcohol in excess, which can cause neuropathy.
  • Avoid taking zinc and vitamin B6 in excess, which can cause nerve problems.

Dr. Twydell admits that some of these tips are easier said than done. For example, it’s hard to change the way you sleep, he said. Yet, people who sleep in a way that compresses the ulnar nerve in their elbow “can cause some pretty significant weakness in the hand.”

And if you’re one of those people who rarely experiences numb or prickly limbs, consider yourself lucky. Some people are more prone to nerve compression than others, Dr. Twydell said.

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