8 Causes and Risk Factors of Lower Back Pain and Leg Tingling/Numbness

8 Causes and Risk Factors of Lower Back Pain and Leg Tingling/Numbness

Lower back pain is a prevalent condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Often accompanied by tingling or numbness down the leg, it can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life. To effectively manage and prevent such discomfort, it is crucial to understand the causes and risk factors associated with lower back pain and leg tingling/numbness.

1.) Herniated Discs

One of the primary causes of lower back pain and leg tingling/numbness is a herniated disc. This condition occurs when the gel-like center of a spinal disc ruptures, exerting pressure on the surrounding nerves. The compression of these nerves can result in radiating pain and tingling sensations down the leg.

2.) Sciatica

Sciatica is a specific form of lower back pain characterized by the irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve. This large nerve runs from the lower back, down through the buttocks, and into each leg. When the sciatic nerve is affected, individuals may experience sharp, shooting pain that extends down the leg, accompanied by tingling or numbness.

3.) Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis refers to the narrowing of the spinal canal, which houses the spinal cord and nerves. This narrowing can occur due to various factors, such as age-related degeneration, bone spurs, or herniated discs. As the space within the spinal canal diminishes, the nerves become compressed, leading to lower back pain and leg tingling/numbness.

4.) Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative disc disease is a condition characterized by the gradual breakdown of the intervertebral discs in the spine. As these discs lose their cushioning properties, the vertebrae may rub against each other, causing pain. Additionally, the degeneration can lead to nerve impingement, resulting in leg tingling/numbness.

5.) Spondylolisthesis

Spondylolisthesis occurs when one vertebra slips forward or backward in relation to an adjacent vertebra. This misalignment can put pressure on the spinal nerves, causing lower back pain and leg symptoms like tingling and numbness. Certain risk factors, such as aging, genetic predisposition, and repetitive stress on the spine, can contribute to the development of spondylolisthesis.

6.) Piriformis Syndrome

The piriformis muscle, located in the buttock region, can sometimes compress the sciatic nerve, leading to piriformis syndrome. This condition can cause lower back pain that radiates down the leg, accompanied by tingling or numbness. Factors such as prolonged sitting, trauma, or muscle imbalances can increase the risk of developing piriformis syndrome.

7.) Lifestyle and Occupation

Several lifestyle and occupational factors can contribute to lower back pain and leg tingling/numbness. Poor posture, excessive weight, lack of exercise, and sedentary habits can strain the lower back and increase the risk of nerve compression. Similarly, jobs that involve heavy lifting, repetitive motions, or prolonged sitting can place stress on the spine, leading to discomfort and leg symptoms.

8.) Trauma and Injuries

Injuries, such as falls, car accidents, or sports-related incidents, can damage the structures in the lower back, including discs, ligaments, and nerves. Traumatic events can cause immediate pain and tingling/numbness or lead to the development of chronic conditions over time.

How a Physiotherapist can help alleviate lower back pain and leg tingling/numbness

When faced with lower back pain and leg tingling/numbness, seeking professional help is crucial to effectively manage and address the underlying causes. A physiotherapist, also known as a physical therapist, is a healthcare professional who specializes in restoring movement and function to the body. With their expertise in musculoskeletal health, a physiotherapist can play a vital role in alleviating lower back pain and leg tingling/numbness. Let’s explore how they can help.

1.) Accurate Diagnosis and Assessment

A physiotherapist begins by conducting a thorough assessment to understand the root causes of your lower back pain and leg symptoms. They will evaluate your medical history, perform a physical examination, and assess your posture, movement patterns, and muscle strength. Through this process, they can accurately diagnose the underlying issues contributing to your symptoms, such as herniated discs, muscle imbalances, or nerve compression.

2.) Tailored Treatment Plan

Once the assessment is complete, the physiotherapist will design a personalized treatment plan to address your specific needs and goals. The plan may include a combination of techniques such as manual therapy, therapeutic exercises, stretching, and modalities like heat or cold therapy. This tailored approach ensures that you receive the most effective interventions to alleviate lower back pain and reduce leg tingling/numbness.

3.) Manual Therapy Techniques

Physiotherapists employ various manual therapy techniques to provide hands-on treatment for lower back pain and leg symptoms. These techniques may include joint mobilization, soft tissue massage, myofascial release, and spinal manipulation. Manual therapy can help improve joint mobility, release muscle tension, and reduce nerve compression, ultimately relieving pain and tingling sensations.

4.) Therapeutic Exercises

Physiotherapists prescribe specific exercises to strengthen the muscles supporting the lower back and promote proper alignment. These exercises may include core stabilization exercises, flexibility exercises, and strengthening exercises targeting the back, hips, and legs. By improving muscle strength, flexibility, and stability, the physiotherapist aims to reduce pain and restore normal movement patterns.

5.) Posture and Ergonomic Guidance

Improper posture and ergonomic practices can contribute to lower back pain and leg symptoms. A physiotherapist can provide guidance on maintaining correct posture while sitting, standing, and performing daily activities. They may also suggest modifications to your work or home environment to optimize ergonomics, reducing strain on your back and minimizing nerve compression.

6.) Pain Management Techniques

Physiotherapists employ various pain management techniques to provide relief from lower back pain and leg tingling/numbness. These may include acupuncture, dry needling, heat or cold therapy and traction. These modalities can help reduce inflammation, alleviate pain, and promote tissue healing.

7.) Education and Self-Management Strategies

In addition to hands-on treatments, physiotherapists educate patients about their condition, empowering them to actively participate in their recovery. They provide guidance on proper body mechanics, lifting techniques, and exercises that can be done at home. By adopting self-management strategies, such as maintaining an active lifestyle, managing stress, and practicing good posture, patients can optimize their recovery and prevent future episodes of pain.

8.) Prevention and Rehabilitation

Physiotherapists focus not only on alleviating current symptoms but also on preventing future recurrences. They can identify risk factors that contribute to lower back pain and leg symptoms, such as muscle imbalances or poor movement patterns. By addressing these factors through targeted rehabilitation exercises and lifestyle modifications, physiotherapists help patients reduce the likelihood of future episodes.

Physiotherapists play a crucial role in managing lower back pain and leg tingling/numbness by providing accurate diagnosis, personalized treatment plans, and comprehensive care. Through a combination of manual therapy, therapeutic exercises, pain management techniques, and education, they empower patients to regain function, alleviate pain, and improve their overall well-being. If you’re experiencing lower back pain and leg symptoms, consulting a physiotherapist can be a proactive step towards a healthier and pain-free life.


This appointment is your opportunity to tell us what hurts and discover whether physiotherapy or chiropractic care is a good fit for you! During this session, you will talk with a physiotherapist or chiropractor on a phone call (or online) and create the right care plan specifically for your pain. There is no obligation on this session is to find out whether physiotherapy or chiropractic care can help you getting back to doing the things you love in life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Physiotherapy can help reduce numbness by addressing the underlying causes of the sensation. A physiotherapist may use various techniques such as manual therapy, therapeutic exercises, and nerve mobilization to alleviate compression on the nerves. By improving blood flow, reducing inflammation, and promoting proper nerve function, physiotherapy can help reduce numbness over time.

It is generally recommended to start physical therapy for lower back pain as soon as possible. Early intervention can help prevent the progression of the condition and promote faster recovery. If you are experiencing persistent or severe lower back pain, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional, such as a physiotherapist, who can assess your condition and provide appropriate treatment recommendations.

Leg numbness can go away depending on the underlying cause and the effectiveness of the treatment. In some cases, numbness may resolve on its own as the body heals. However, if the numbness is caused by a specific condition such as nerve compression or disc herniation, it may require targeted interventions, such as physiotherapy, to alleviate the symptoms. It is essential to consult a healthcare professional to determine the cause of leg numbness and develop an appropriate treatment plan.

About Corey Kim

A co-owner of Break Free Physiotherapy and Wellness. He was born in Seoul, South Korea but grew up in London, Ontario. He finished both his Bachelor of Arts in Kinesiology and Master of Physical Therapy degrees at Western University. He have been fortunate to travel the world as a physiotherapist consultant in Nepal teaching at Kathmandu University’s Bachelor of Physiotherapy program.

Medical Disclaimer:

The information presented in this blog post is for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, treatment or a diagnosis, consult with a medical professional such as one suggested on this website. The Clinic Accelerator Inc. and the author of this page are not liable for the associated risks of using or acting upon the information contained in this article.

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