Sciatica is caused by injury to or pressure on the sciatic nerve – the largest nerve in the body. It often results in pain affecting the back, hip, and outer side of the leg. The quality of the pain can vary from something resembling a perpetual leg cramp, to shooting pains that makes standing or sitting nearly impossible. Sciatica is generally considered a symptom of another medical problem (i.e. the degeneration of an intervertebral disk) and not a medical condition on its own.
Sciatica can occur suddenly or can develop gradually. Sometimes it’s accompanied by a weakness, numbness, or tingling sensation down the leg, and possibly even in the toes. For some people suffering from sciatica, the pain worsens when they sit, sneeze, or cough, or less commonly, lose mobility in the knee, foot or toes.
What Causes Sciatica?
By definition, sciatica results from irritation or inflammation of the sciatic nerve, the most common of which is caused by a lumbar disk herniation or slipped discs putting pressure directly on the nerve root. Other causes of sciatica include
- Piriformis syndrome — the tightening or spasming of the piriformis muscle, a small muscle that lies deep in the buttocks, which can put pressure on the sciatic nerve.
- Spinal stenosis — a narrowing of the spinal canal, which results with pressure on the nerves.
- Spondylolisthesis — The slippage of one vertebra so that it is out of line with the one above it, narrowing the opening through which the nerve exits.
How Massage Can Help
Numerous studies have shown that specialized massage to the sciatic area can reduce the compression of the sciatic nerve, thereby relieving sciatic pain. Some clients report feeling relief from moderate sciatic pain in as little as one session. For others, several sessions are required to enable the muscle to release its hold on the sciatic nerve and provide long-term relief. If you’re suffering from long-term sciatica and are looking for ongoing relief and prevention, it’s best to make massage part of your overall wellness plan.
Pharaoh Bodyworks specializes in massage techniques specific to dealing with sciatica. If you’re currently suffering from either acute or chronic sciatica and give us a call today!