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Numbness and Tingling fingers anxiety symptom

Jim Folk author
Written by: Jim Folk.
Medically reviewed by: Marilyn Folk, BScN.
Last updated: February 9, 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?

Medical Advisory

When this symptom is caused by anxiety, behaving in an apprehensive manner activates the stress response. The stress response secretes stress hormones into the bloodstream where they travel to targeted spots 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 include shunting blood to various parts of the body in an attempt to prepare it for emergency action. For example, blood is shunted away from the skin and extremities so that it can be used in parts of the body 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 others. 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.

Chronic stress is another cause of tingly, numb feeling fingers. Since stress causes the body’s muscles and arteries to tighten, chronic stress can cause blood flow to be restricted to the hands, which can also cause a numb and tingly feeling in the fingers.

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.

Anxiety Therapy

If you are having difficulty with anxiety and worry, working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist is the most effective way to overcome anxiety disorder, its symptoms, and what can seem like unmanageable worry.


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:

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