Massage For Sciatica: If you thought massage therapy was just for treating sports injuries or indulging in a spot of relaxation, think again. A good massage therapist can ease the pain of many conditions, including sciatica. Find out how massage can help sciatica in our quick guide.
Sciatica – what is it?
Sciatica is a troublesome condition characterized by stabbing or shooting pain in the back, buttocks and legs.
It’s most often caused by a problem in the lower back such as a bulging disc, which presses on the nerve. There are many other causes though, including age-related degeneration of spinal joints, stenosis of the spinal canal, a shift in the spinal vertebrae (spondylolisthesis), and piriformis syndrome.
Other symptoms of sciatica include tingling, burning or numbness in the legs or feet, muscle aching and tenderness in the back, buttocks and legs, weakness in the legs or feet, and pain that worsens with prolonged sitting or standing.
How can massage ease sciatic pain?
Massage can be incredibly effective at reducing the pain and tension of sciatica. This happens through several mechanisms.
First, muscular tension can be a primary cause of sciatica. For example, spasm of the piriformis, a small muscle deep in the buttock, can directly compress the sciatic nerve. A massage therapist can apply a variety of techniques to address tension and trigger points within the muscle.
There are many causes of piriformis spasm, such as a fall on to the buttock, or sacroiliac joint dysfunction. Relaxing the muscle can not only ease pain but also help normalize function in the pelvis, speeding recovery and allowing symptoms to settle.
Second, people with sciatic pain inevitably have widespread tension. This is because pain causes us to tense up, and we shift our weight to try and avoid painful positions. Many people with sciatica complain of aches that spread to other areas – often the back, hip and leg on the opposite side. Massage can address these secondary pains. Muscular tension leads to further pain, which in turn causes greater tension. Breaking this vicious cycle of tension and pain helps providethe space and time to heal.
And third, massage is well-known for its relaxation properties. The effects go deeper than skin and muscle – massage reduces levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, and boosts endorphins, the natural painkiller hormones. That means improved psychological well-being, and importantly, better sleep – an essential element of any healing process.
Combined therapy for sciatica
And here at OCHK in Central, we have several other therapies that can help address sciatica. Massage can be combined with one of these to give a targeted double-whammy treatment for sciatica. Your therapist can advise you on the most appropriate combinations for you.
If you have sciatica, book in now for a comprehensive assessment and the right treatment to get you back on your feet.