Pins and needles – anxiety symptom
Pins and needles anxiety symptom description:
You feel a pins and needles, tingling sensation on or in your arms, hands, fingers, toes, legs, feet, head, face, lips, tongue, stomach, or anywhere on or in the body.
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 and 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?
There are many causes for this pins and needles feeling. Common causes include:
- Pinched nerve
- Circulation problems
- Reaction to medication
- Allergic reaction
- Tight muscles
- A variety of medical illnesses
- Vitamin B deficiency
Because of the many medical conditions that can cause anxiety-like sensations and symptoms, including a pins and needles feeling, we recommend that you discuss this symptom with your doctor. If your doctor concludes that this symptom is solely anxiety and/or stress related, you can be assured that there isn’t another medical condition causing it. Generally, most doctors can easily tell the difference between stress and anxiety caused sensations and symptoms from those caused by other medical reasons.
If you are uncertain about your doctor’s diagnosis, however, you may want to seek a second and even third opinion. But if all three opinions concur, you can feel confident that stress, including anxiety-caused stress, is the cause of this symptom and not some other medical or biological problem.
Yes, the stress caused by being anxious can cause this symptom. In fact, feeling a pins and needles sensation is a very common symptom of anxiety.
Stress, including the stress caused by behaving anxiously, 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.
NOTE: Chapter 9 in the Recovery Support area of our website has a more in depth description of the pins and needles anxiety symptom.
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.
For a more detailed explanation about anxiety symptoms including the pins and needles feeing, 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 - we call these core causes 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.
For more information about our Anxiety Therapy, Coaching, Counseling option; our Available Anxiety Therapists; to Book An Appointment with one of our anxiety therapists; common Symptoms of Anxiety; Anxiety Attack Symptoms; anxiety Recovery Support area; common Anxiety Myths; and our Anxiety 101 section; or click on the appropriate graphic below:
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Authors: Jim Folk, Marilyn Folk, BScN. Last updated January 10, 2017.