Numbness or lack of sensation is generally caused by pressure on a nerve but there are many other possible reasons for this problem. Once pressure is taken off the nerve, function normally resumes. A more severe case is when nerves are pinched by a bony spur or herniated disc of the spine, which can trigger a medical emergency. The occasional bout of numbness is a harmless event however chronic numbness can be symptomatic of some other underlying disorders such as Diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis, etc. So, if you are experiencing this sensation frequently it would be wise to get it checked out soon and you can start by seeing your Physiotherapist.


Numbness, tingling and pins and needles are abnormal sensations that may occur anywhere in the body. They are often felt in fingers, hands, feet, arms and legs. There are several different causes for experiencing such abnormal sensations. With regards to the spine, an injury to a nerve in your neck may cause feelings of numbness anywhere along your arm or hand, whereas, an injury in the lower back region can cause numbness or tingling in your leg.

Some common causes of numbness are:

  • Herniated disc of the spine
  • Pressure on peripheral nerves in the elbow for example or in the wrist (Carpal Tunnel Syndrome)
  • Shingles
  • Lack of blood supply which is quite common in the foot
  • Lack of Vitamin D
  • Abnormal levels of calcium, potassium or sodium in your body
  • Radiation therapy
  • Stroke
  • Underactive thyroid


Treatment depends on the cause of your numbness. Our Physiotherapists have a great deal of specific clinical experience in the diagnosis and management of nerve related injuries.

Diagnosis of a nerve injury is made by taking a detailed history and carrying out a comprehensive objective examination. Depending on the findings, we may recommend further testing, such as a nerve conduction test to confirm the presence of a pinched nerve and to determine the extent of the nerve injury.

If Physiotherapy treatment is determined to be appropriate, the range of approaches may include (but is not limited to) the following:

  • Manipulation
  • Mobilisation
  • Stretches
  • Massage
  • Modification of duties

Our physiotherapists will use a variety of evidence-based therapies and treatments to help reduce your numbness, improve your sensation and get you back functioning fully as soon as possible.

Nerve compressions can be extremely problematic if left untreated. It is therefore vital that you seek advice from your Physiotherapist or GP as early intervention is key to full return of function.