Prolonged pressure on nerves sometimes causes a temporary pins and needles sensation in the foot or elsewhere in the body, while nerve damage is usually responsible for chronic or severe occurrences of this sensation, according to WebMD. This type of nerve damage, known as peripheral neuropathy, has many possible causes.
Diabetes is the most common cause of peripheral neuropathy, accounting for 30 percent of all cases, reports WebMD. Another 30 percent of cases are idiopathic, meaning that the cause is unknown. The remaining 40 percent of cases are due to a wide variety of conditions, including nerve palsy, cancer, vitamin deficiencies, Lyme disease and alcoholism.