What Is Sciatica?
Sciatica is a painful condition characterized by pain in or around the back, buttocks, lower legs and/or feet. The pain may radiate up into your neck and shoulders. Sciatica affects approximately 1% of the population, but it’s often misdiagnosed as other conditions such as arthritis or even cancer.
The cause of sciatica isn’t known, but there are several theories. One theory suggests that the condition results from damage to nerves in the spine, which causes pain signals to travel through the spinal cord instead of being passed directly along them.
Another theory suggests that sciatica is caused by overuse of muscles and tendons in the lower body (especially those involved in walking).
There are two types of sciatica: chronic and acute. Chronic sciatica occurs when the condition has been present for years and usually responds well to treatment.
Acute cases occur suddenly, typically after injury or surgery. There is no cure for either type of case; however, some treatments have been found effective in treating both types of cases.
The sciatic nerve is the longest and widest nerve in the human body. It begins at the base of the spine (located within the spinal column), runs through the pelvis, and into each leg.
The sciatic nerve is what allows you to walk, stand, and move from the legs and feet. If you suffer from sciatica, you might feel a sharp pain when moving around or sitting for long periods of time.
You may have heard some people say that they have a “pinched nerve” or “slipped disc” in the past. These are both common conditions that can cause sciatica, and in some cases, the symptoms may be similar.
If you’re suffering from any of these conditions, it’s important to seek medical help as soon as possible.
What Are the Symptoms of Sciatica?
Pain in the lower back, legs, feet, and/or gluteal region is the most common symptom of sciatica. It usually begins gradually and worsens over time. Pain is often described as a constant ache or sharp pain that may be worse when you’re sitting, walking, or standing. Other symptoms may include weakness, numbness, or/and a tingling sensation.
Does Massage Help with Sciatica?
When you suffer from sciatica, the pain often radiates through your back and down one or both legs. This pain can be quite intense, making it difficult to perform normal daily tasks. If you’ve ever experienced this type of pain before, you might be wondering if massage can help.
Massage therapy may be helpful in providing temporary relief from the pain of sciatica. It can also increase blood flow to the muscles and encourage flexibility, which can prevent future occurrences of the condition.
Massage won’t heal the sciatic nerve, but it may provide pain relief and increase your range of motion.
How Can You Get Massage Therapy?
You can get massage therapy in many different types of settings. Some of the most common places to receive treatment include:
Sports medicine clinics
Physical therapy clinics
There are also many independent massage therapists that have set up shop in their own office or even at home. Some insurance companies, such as Aetna, offer discounted rates to their members who receive treatment from an in-network provider.
If you suffer from sciatica, it’s a good idea to talk to your primary care physician about your condition and inquire whether massage therapy would be a good addition to your treatment plan. Your physician can refer you to an appropriate therapist or advise you on other treatment options.
Massage Therapy and Sports Injuries
Do you suffer from a sports-related injury?
Massage therapy may help speed up the healing process. Massage therapy is often used in conjunction with other treatment methods to help people suffering from various sports-related injuries.
Massage therapy works best when the affected muscle tissue is still warm, so it’s important to get treatment soon after your injury occurs. If you go to a professional massage therapist, they should be able to provide you with a sheet that shows you all of the pre-existing conditions and restrictions you should tell them about before your first session.
The most common types of sports-related conditions that people seek massage therapy for include:
Slipped Discs (Disc Herniations)
If you have a sports-related injury, it’s important to see your primary care physician before setting up an appointment with a massage therapist. They can refer you to a specialist or advise you on other treatment options.
What to Expect From Massage Therapy for Sports Injuries
Your first visit to a massage therapy should include a full assessment of your injury. The therapist will ask you about your medical history and the source of your injury, and then conduct a complete physical assessment of the affected area.
Your assessment may include:
Range of motion tests
Muscle strength tests
Tests for Numbness or Tingling
Uneven Skin Texture
Your massage therapist will then perform a deep tissue massage to the affected area. They will also use other special techniques, such as acupressure and myofascial release.
You may feel slight discomfort during treatment, but your massage therapist will stop if you experience any severe pain.
After your session, you should notice an improvement in the affected area. You may be asked to perform certain exercises at home, which your massage therapist can teach you, to improve your recovery and prevent future injuries.
How Can You Find a Qualified Massage Therapist?
It’s important to find a massage therapist that is both qualified and experienced in treating your specific condition. Not all massage therapists are qualified to practice sports massage therapy, so you should do some research to make sure that yours is properly trained and experienced.
You can start by asking your primary care physician for a referral. They can recommend a therapist that has a good reputation with other physicians in the area.
Your massage therapist will most likely be able to diagnose your condition just by performing a physical assessment, but they may also want to run some tests. These tests could include:
It’s important to remember that these tests are not covered by health insurance and can be expensive. Your massage therapist should inform you of any tests that they feel are necessary, and help you to get them approved by your health insurance carrier.
Massage therapy can be a great way to improve the health of your muscles and relieve pain caused by sports-related injuries. In most cases, massage therapy is affordable and provides lasting results with no negative side effects.
If you suffer from chronic pain or ongoing sports injuries, you may want to see a massage therapist on a regular basis. Massage therapy is also a great way to prevent common aches and pains that result from exercising.
If you want to learn more, speak to a therapist at your local hospital or clinic to get started.
Sources & references used in this article:
Massage therapy helps to increase range of motion, decrease pain and assist in healing a client with low back pain and sciatica symptoms by J Bell – Journal of bodywork and movement therapies, 2008 – Elsevier
The treatment of sciatica, brachialgia, and occipital headache by R Stockman – Annals of the rheumatic diseases, 1940 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Intervertebral disk lesions as cause of sciatica by JS Barr – British medical journal, 1938 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Massage therapy by A PAIN, A YOU’RE NOT – Annals of Internal Medicine, 2003 – pfizerforprofessionals.co.nz
Healthcare utilisation of pregnant women who experience sciatica, leg cramps and/or varicose veins: A cross-sectional survey of 1835 pregnant women by H Hall, R Lauche, J Adams, A Steel, A Broom, D Sibbritt – Women and Birth, 2016 – Elsevier
Chiropractic manipulation in the treatment of acute back pain and sciatica with disc protrusion: a randomized double-blind clinical trial of active and simulated spinal … by V Santilli, E Beghi, S Finucci – The Spine Journal, 2006 – Elsevier