Sciatica, also known as lumbar radiculopathy, is a painful condition in which one or both sides of the sciatic nerve is compressed. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the human body, stretching from the lower back and splitting into two at the pelvis, with one nerve going down each leg. It’s responsible for sending and receiving electrical impulses from the brain, essentially telling the muscles in the legs and feet when to contract.
There are several different factors known to play a role in the formation of sciatica, including weight gain, spinal disc herniation, spinal stenosis, piriformis syndrome, pregnancy, and trauma to the spine or surrounding tissue. Normally, the sciatic nerve remains unconstrained, but there are certain conditions, diseases and injuries that will compress the nerve, resulting in sciatica.
Symptoms of sciatica may include one or more of the following:
- Pain radiating from the lower back to the leg
- Dull aching
- Feeling of pins and needles in the foot
- Numbness in the leg or foot
Note: pain and other symptoms of sciatica can range from mild to severe.
Massage Therapy For Relief of Sciatica
If you’re still masking your symptoms of sciatica rather than treating the root cause of the problem, you should look into massage therapy. Going back to the basics of this condition, sciatica is caused from compression against the sciatic nerve. By releasing this pressure, you’ll treat the condition and relieve yourself of its associated symptoms.
Massage therapy is a safe and effective way to release pressure on the sciatic nerve. A licensed professional massage therapist will first discuss your symptoms and the location of these symptoms. Using this information, he or she will begin to knead the muscles and tissue in an attempt to release the compression placed against the sciatic nerve.
It’s not uncommon for a professional massage therapist to focus on the piriformis muscles, causing them to relax and release pressure. When these muscles become tight and remain in a constricted state, it may cut off the sciatic nerve. A deep-tissue massage on the piriformis and surrounding muscles, however, can counteract this problem by promoting natural relaxation and tension release.
Massage therapy for sciatica is typically performed using long strokes with a moderate amount of pressure. Pressure varies depending on the client’s preference, but moderate pressure is the most effective in treating sciatica. A massage therapist may also recommend certain at-home self-massages to relieve sciatic nerve pressure.