Numbness And Tingling Fingers – anxiety symptoms

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

Numb and tingly fingers description:

This anxiety symptom is commonly described as fingers that feel numb or tingly. It is also often described as losing the touch sensation in your fingers, that your fingers feel odd, or that they are tingling. Some people describe this symptom as a ‘crawly’ tingly sensation in their fingertips.

Some people also say that this symptom feels like the blood is being cut off from the fingers, and therefore, they tingle and may also feel numb and cold.

This symptom is also referred to as a prickling or pins and needles feeling.

This symptom can also occur in just one finger or a spot on one finger, a large spot on one finger or fingers, or encompass all of the fingers.

This symptom can occur rarely, frequently, or persistently.

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

This symptom 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 fingers?

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 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 fingers, the fingers can feel numb, cold, and tingly. Being nervous and anxious can cause this feeling in the fingers.

Hyperventilation is another cause of tingling fingers. 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 tingling sensation in the body, including the fingers. If you aren’t breathing normally, this can cause your fingers to feel tingly or like they are prickling and tingling.

Another cause of tingly numb feeling fingers is an overly stressed body. 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 and tingly feeling in the fingers. Being under a lot of unrelieved stress can this feeling.

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How to get rid of tingling and numb feeling fingers

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 your blood flow return to normal, which should cause this symptom to subside.

If you are breathing too shallowly or holding your breath, adopting a relaxed breathing pattern (slow, deeper and more relaxed, but not to the point of hypoventilation) should correct the CO2 levels in the blood. As this level corrects, you should see this symptom subside.

Reducing your stress and giving your body ample time to recover should also eliminate this symptom.

Because anxiety-caused tingling and numb fingers isn’t harmful, this symptom needn’t be a reason for concern. Taking the above actions should correct it.

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 and Tingling Fingers.