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Pins & needles | referred from the spine

Symptoms such as pins & needles or numbness are commonly referred from an issue at the spine. In many cases the nerve symptoms are more unbearable than the source of these symptoms, for example, sciatica arising from lower back pain. Physios are musculoskeletal experts with advanced understanding of the anatomy involved. We can provide a diagnosis and treatment to relieve your pain and symptoms.


Radiculopathy is the term we use for pain and symptoms referred from the spine – commonly the neck and lower back. Between each of your spinal bones a nerve root emerges which carries information all over your body. In the case of the lower back these nerves control everything below your waist – everything from kicking a football to controlling your bladder to maintaining your balance. Sciatica is where one or more of these nerve roots gets trapped in the lower back and refers pain or symptoms such as pins & needles to the leg.

Lower back pain and referred symptoms

There are many different reasons why a nerve may become trapped in the lumbar spine. Dependant on where you are experiencing the pins & needles, tingling or numbness – this can help deduce the exact locations where the nerve is trapped.  It may be due to a slipped disc or a facet joint problem. There may be some muscle imbalances causes the issue, for example, piriformis syndrome. Or the nerve may be being influenced by inflammation due to an injury or ‘wear and tear’ (arthritis). The lower back and  gives rise to nerve that control your bladder and bowel, so where there are radicular symptoms, we need to ask some special safety questions and perform a neurological examination.

Neck pain and pins & needles

Just like the lumbar spine, a trapped nerve refers symptoms away from he neck. The location of these symptoms can tell us the source of the problem. For example, pain or symptoms in the upper arm or shoulder blade can arise from the 5th neck (cervical) nerve. Again your physio will perform a safety examination but also assess you for other reasons for your symptoms such as the mid back, shoulder, elbow, carpal tunnel, etc.

The upper neck can also refer symptoms upwards towards the head with dizziness and some headaches being a form of cervical radiculopathy.

What can a physio do for pins & needles?

As with all physiotherapy, treatment starts with a comprehensive understanding of your symptoms. We will then carry out a detailed examination to confirm a diagnosis (the cause of your symptoms). From this point we can formulate a plan to treat the problem and reduce the symptoms. Here at The Physios we are manual therapy enthusiasts so expect some hands-on treatment such as joint mobilisation and manipulation. We will also treat the soft tissues and suggest some management exercises.

All our team have an area of special interest such as the management headaches, rehabilitation of the lower back, massage therapy and acupuncture so we are confidence we have the skills and knowledge to get you better and keep you that way.