Unsteady hands


I feel like I would have so much more potential as a nurse if I could just stop my hands from being shaky which is anxiety related. I am so jealous of people with steady hands who are able to just insert needles without a second thought. I just cannot for the life of me keep my hands steady. I have tried everything from cutting caffeine, combat breathing, deep breathing, drinking calming tea. I do not want to have to take Propranolol or any other type of med. Any advice?

Specializes in acutecarefloatpool. BSN/RN/CMSRN. i dabble in pedi. Has 9 years experience.

I read your other post, and I think the bigger issue you need to tackle is your anxiety. How long have you been a nurse? Have you recently started a new job?


183 Posts

My only suggestion is propranolol or nadolol unfortunately. Propranolol is also a treatment for general anxiety, as well as social anxiety. I take propranolol for tremors related to lithium use. I used to shake like I had Parkinson's...now I'm steady as a rock. I have taken nadolol too and that worked as well.

You mentioned being jealous of steady-handed nurses. I am one of them and could slide an IV in a 400 gram baby today if I had to...but I'm medicated so no one around me now would ever know that I used to struggle even taking an oral temp without dropping the thermometer on the floor. So you never know if those steady nurses have always been so steady or what they did to become so steady.

But you said no meds, so that pretty much leaves therapy, something like CBT based therapy, which is great, but it's a process, so it won't be a quick fix.

Good luck in your journey.


8 Posts

Essential tremors (mostly hands/fingers) run in my family. It was a running joke at the poker table that if my hands were shaking, then I was betting; I was almost always betting. But I've never really had an issue with IVs except with overweight dark completed patients where I struggle to visualize the vein. First thing I did, was study vein/artery charts; no body is the same but it makes it far easier to find what you're looking for if you know where you can look. I don't know what will work for you as it seems to be a different underlying cause, but I'll tell you what I do. I take as much time as I need. I get comfortable with which vein looks the most promising; I spend time to find out how it will move. I always have a second set available and second site chosen already. If I'm struggling between site choices I get a second opinion. I wait until I'm ready and then I go for it. Working in LTC I don't have time to waste, but for something tricky it's worth spending the extra time to get things done right the first time. If you can, practice on other people; not those runner types with bulging veins on skinny bodies. But on moderately difficult sticks. Usually, the cephalic vein is the easiest for me because it's easy for me to find where it hitches over the radius.

Idk why my hands steady down after that. Maybe I fake it and don't realize I'm shaking still. Just keep on trying. You can do it steady hands or not.