Nervous system

Tingling in back: Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Tingling in back can be an awful symptom. Many people underestimate how uncomfortable back tingling makes a person. Only the person who suffers from this condition can really tell others how disturbing this feeling is.

Tingling, numbness, pins, and needles are called paresthesias. They are abnormal sensations on the skin that a person experiences. Tingling is often felt as a pricking sensation on the skin which is very irritating.

Tingling in back makes a person constantly focus his attention on his back due to the uncomfortable feeling. He might not be able to concentrate on other works due to this problem.

All these paresthesias like tingling, numbness, pins, and needles are caused due to various nervous disorders. They can occur anywhere on the body apart from our disturbing tingling sensation in back.

The region where the tingling sensation occurs depends on the nerves involved. For example, if the neck or cervical nerve roots are involved, a person might experience tingling on neck, hands, arms, etc. If the nerve roots of the lumbar region or lower back are involved, then tingling in back, mainly tingling in the lower back, and also tingling in buttocks and legs can occur.

There are various nervous disorders which can lead to back tingling. Let us discuss them in detail.

Causes of Tingling in back:

tingling in back

There are many different causes of tingling in back. Let us discuss the most common causes.

Lower back injury:

People might injure their lower back due to any accident, direct attack by another person, fall on their back, etc. If anything as such happens, the nerves in the lower back get damaged. Any damage to the nerves can lead to paresthesias like tingling sensation in back, numbness, pins, and needles, etc. People might also experience weakness and pain due to this nerve damage along with back tingling.

Herniated disc:

Our spinal cord passes through the bony vertebral column formed by the vertebrae. There is a cushion between the vertebrae called the intervertebral disc. Each intervertebral disc has 2 parts, the outer annulus fibrosus, and the inner nucleus pulposus. The outer part is tough and hard and protects the soft jelly-like nucleus pulposus.

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But sometimes if any tear or damage occurs in the outer part, the soft jelly like inner part protrudes through the outer part. This is called herniated disc or bulging disc or pinched nerve or slipped disc or ruptured disc, etc.

This herniated disc presses upon the spinal nerve roots and causes pain, weakness, and paresthesias. If this herniated disc occurs in the lumbar intervertebral discs, there will be paresthesias and pain in the lower back, including tingling in back.

Herpes zoster or shingles:

We all have heard of chicken pox, right. In fact, many of us have got this disease when we were kids. The virus causing chicken pox is called varicella zoster virus. It is a type of human herpes virus.

In a person who suffered from chickenpox, this varicella zoster virus goes to the dorsal root ganglion of the spinal cord and stays dormant over there. It can stay in this dormant state for years together. But, if the immunity of the person decreases due to any reason, this virus becomes reactivated and causes shingles or herpes zoster.

In shingles, there is a development of vesicular rash in certain dermatomes. Dermatomes are areas of the body supplied by particular nerves. If shingles occur in the lower back dermatomes, it can cause tingling in back. The person can also have severe pain along with back tingling.

If shingles occur in the upper back, it can also lead to the formation of vesicular rash and tingling on upper back.

Multiple sclerosis:

In multiple sclerosis, the protective covering of the neurons or the nerve cells called the myelin sheath is lost. In other words, there is demyelination. Due to demyelination, there are many abnormal neurological symptoms.

Some of the symptoms include vision problems, tingling, and numbness anywhere on the body including tingling in back, pains, fatigue, difficulty in balancing the body, sexual problems, bladder dysfunction, problems with cognitive abilities like memory, etc.


If any tumor develops in the spinal cord region, it can compress the spinal nerve roots and lead to tingling in back. If te tumor occurs in the upper back, it can lead to tingling in the upper back. If the tumor occurs in the lower back, it can lead to tingling in the lower back.

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Diabetic neuropathy:

Diabetes is a very common disease occurring amongst people throughout the world. People with long-standing Diabetes tend to suffer from many different problems like Diabetic Nephropathy, Diabetic neuropathy, Diabetic Retinopathy, Diabetic skin disorders, etc.

High levels of blood sugar in Diabetic people can damage the nerves in the long term and lead to Diabetic neuropathy. People with Diabetic neuropathy suffer from paresthesias like pins and needles, burning sensations, numbness, tingling anywhere on the body. This tingling can occur on arms, legs and also as tingling in back.

Vitamin B12 deficiency:

Vitamin B12 deficiency is associated with many neurological symptoms as vitamin B12 is necessary for the proper functioning of the nerves. Deficiency of vitamin B12 leads to many problems like pernicious anemia (a type of macrocytic anemia), peripheral neuropathy, etc.

The peripheral neuropathy caused by vitamin B12 deficiency leads to tingling, numbness, etc in the hands, legs, etc. Sometimes tingling in back can also occur due to the deficiency of vitamin B12.


It is a condition in which there is a tingling sensation in back, numbness, pain which originate in the lower back and radiate down to the buttock, thigh, and leg on one side.

Sciatica is caused by nervous disorders between the levels of L4 and S1 spinal segments mostly. Herniated disc in this region can also lead to sciatica.

Diagnosis of Tingling in back:

The tests that need to be done to diagnose tingling in back depending on the disease which is causing the symptoms. Your physician will take a detailed history about the nature of tingling, any other associated symptoms like numbness, weakness, etc.

He might also ask you about the radiation of the tingling sensation in back to legs. He might also ask you about the past history of other medical disorders like diabetes.

After taking a detailed history your physician will then have certain diseases in mind as the causes of your back tingling. Then he might order further tests to confirm his suspicion.

If he is suspecting any herniated disc, he might order MRI spine. For Sciatica, he might do a physical exam test called straight leg raise test, and he might also order an MRI of the spine.

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If he is suspecting Multiple sclerosis, he might order MRI to see demyelination of the nerves. If he is suspecting Diabetes, he might order fasting blood sugar, post lunch blood sugar levels.

If your physician suspects that you are suffering from any vitamin B12 deficiency, he might even order vitamin B12 levels in the blood. If you are suffering from tingling sensation in the back after any trauma or accident, he might order MRI spine to see the exact problem.

Treatment of tingling in back:

Your back tingling can only be corrected if the underlying cause is treated properly. After the investigations, your physician can diagnose the exact disease or problem causing a tingling sensation in the back in you.

Then he will treat you correctly based on the disease. If you are diagnosed as having vitamin B12 deficiency, you will be given vitamin B12 supplements and also asked to eat vitamin B12 rich foods.

If you are having Diabetes, you will be prescribed oral hypoglycemic drugs or insulin to keep your blood sugar levels under control. If you have Multiple sclerosis, you will be given drugs to control the symptoms of the disease and also to prevent the progression of the disease. But, there is no cure for multiple sclerosis.

If you have any tumor, it will either be resected by surgery or treated with radiotherapy or chemotherapy.

If you are suffering from herniated disc, you will need to take the help of a Houston chiropractor to correct the problem. Alternative treatments like Ayurvedic massages are also known to help these patients very well.

By now, you must have understood what are all the causes of tingling in back, the tests that are done for diagnosis of back tingling and also the treatments necessary to provide relief from the symptoms. But, there are many causes of tingling in back which we might not have discussed. They may range from mild conditions to serious conditions. So, visit your physician to get proper diagnosis and treatment for tingling in back.

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