Numb Tingling Tingly Hands – anxiety symptoms

Written by Jim Folk
Medically reviewed by Marilyn Folk, BScN.
Last updated May 19, 2021

Numb tingling tingly hands description:

This anxiety symptom is often described as a numb and tingling sensation in the hands and fingers, a numb feeling, or that your hands and fingers feel tingly, pins and needles feeling, or ‘crawly.’ This sensation can occur in one hand, both hands, or alternate between each hand.

Some people say that this symptom feels like the blood is being cut off to the hands, and therefore, their hands tingle and may also feel numb.

Numb tingling tingly hands is also referred to as a prickling feeling or a pins and needles feeling.

Numb tingling tingly hands can also occur in just a small spot on one hand, a large spot on one hand, or encompass both hands entirely.

Numb tingling tingly hands can occur rarely from time to time, frequently, or persist indefinitely.

Numb tingling tingly hands can be barely noticeable, moderately bothersome, or severe. This symptom can also change in intensity from time to time, frequently, or persistently.

Numb tingling tingly hands can also occur when anxious or stressed, or appear for no apparent reason.

All combinations and variations of the above are common.

NOTE: Because many anxiety symptoms are sensory-based, they can be described in a subjective manner, with each person describing the same symptom in a slightly different way.

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Why does anxiety cause numb and tingling hands?

Behaving in an apprehensive manner activates the stress response. The stress response secretes stress hormones into the bloodstream where they travel to targeted spots in the body to bring about specific physiological, psychological, and emotional changes that enhance the body’s ability to deal with a threat - to either fight with or flee from it - which is the reason the stress response is often referred to as the fight or flight response.

A part of the stress response changes causes the body to shunt blood to various parts of the body in an attempt to prepare it for emergency action. For example, the body shunts blood away from the skin and extremities so that it can be used in body parts more vital to survival, such as the heart, brain, and muscles. This shunting action is accomplished by restricting blood vessels in certain parts of the body and expanding them in another. Because blood is shunted away from the extremities, including the hands, the hands can feel numb and tingly. Being nervous and anxious can cause this feeling in the hands.

Hyperventilation is another cause of numb tingling tingly hands. When we breathe too shallowly and don’t take in enough oxygen, this causes the CO2 levels in the blood to change, which can cause a numb tingling tingly sensation in the body, including the hands. If you aren’t breathing normally, this could be the cause of your numb tingling tingly hands feeling.

Persistently elevated stress is another cause of tingling tingly numb feeling hands. Since stress causes the body’s muscles and arteries to tighten, an overly stressed body can cause blood flow to be restricted to the hands, which can also cause a numb, tingling, and tingly feeling. If you’ve been really stressed lately, this stress could be very reason your hands feel numb and/or tingly.

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How to get rid of numb tingling tingly hands

If you are nervous or anxious, calming yourself down will stop the stress response. As your body recovers from the stress response changes, you should see this symptom subside.

If you aren’t breathing normally, deliberately slowing down your breaths and taking moderately deep breaths (not to the point of hypoventilation) should correct the CO2 levels in the blood. As this level corrects, you should see your numb tingling tingly hands feeling subside.

If you’ve been under a lot of stress lately, reducing your stress and giving your body ample time to calm down and recover should also eliminate this symptom.

Because these symptoms aren’t harmful, they aren’t a reason for concern. Taking the above actions should correct them.

For a more detailed explanation about anxiety symptoms (including this one), why symptoms can persist long after the stress response has ended, common barriers to recovery and symptom elimination, and more recovery strategies and tips, we have many chapters that address this information in the Recovery Support area of our website.

The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist, coach, or counselor is the most effective way to address anxiety and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed – which we call the underlying factors of anxiety – a struggle with anxiety unwellness can return again and again. Dealing with the underlying factors of anxiety is the best way to address problematic anxiety.

Additional Resources

Return to our anxiety disorders signs and symptoms page. Information, support, and therapy for anxiety disorder and its symptoms, including Numb Tingling Tingly Hands.