Sciatica happens when someone experiences a radiating pain down their backside along the path of the sciatic nerve, which starts in the lower back and moves through the hips and buttocks then down each leg. In most cases, sciatica only affects one side of the body. It often occurs when a bone spur or herniated disk in the spine irritate the spinal nerve roots, which combine to create the sciatic nerve. Any irritation of the spinal nerve roots can lead to sciatica, which can cause pain, inflammation and numbness in the leg that’s affected. The good news is that sciatica pain is often temporary and works itself out within a few weeks, even though it can become severe at times – in most cases it won’t last too long. Pain is the most common symptom of sciatica and can range from a dull ache to a sharp or burning sensation. Other symptoms include tingling, muscle weakness in the affected leg and numbness. There are several risk factors that increase someone’s chances of developing sciatica. These include:
- Obesity: Carrying around extra weight puts additional pressure on the spine.
- Age: Bone spurs and herniated disks are often the result of aging.
- Diabetes: This blood sugar illness increases the risk of nerve damage.
- Prolonged sitting: Leading a sedentary lifestyle or working an office job that requires sitting for a long time can raise the chances of developing sciatica.
Should you get a massage to help deal with sciatica pain?
Massage is an excellent tool for relieving sore muscles and nerve pain, and because of this, it’s a useful option to relieve the discomfort of sciatica. Massage can also promote relaxation, increase blood flow and cause the release of endorphins, which are hormones that provide natural pain relief. Self massage is something you can provide for yourself whenever you feel it’s necessary, and using a portable massager allows you to target specific areas of the body and increase or decrease pressure as needed. Often, sciatica is the result of tight muscles, so giving yourself a deep tissue or relaxation massage can provide low back pain relief and loosen up the muscles to provide relief. The piriformis muscle, in particular, can become very tight and have spasms, which might compress the sciatic nerve. The piriformis is part of the gluteus muscles in the buttocks, and you can use a massager to apply pressure to this muscle, which will encourage the piriformis to relax. This is especially important because piriformis syndrome can be a major cause of sciatica. Additionally, tight hamstrings and a weak lower back can lead more pressure on the lumbar spine. This added stress can lead to inflammation around the spine, which may cause sciatica symptoms to develop. It can also be helpful to use a more gentle massage approach on the lower back and back of the legs as well. Gently glide the massager up and down the lower back and hamstrings, using additional pressure and hold on certain points that feel tender or knotted. Keeping up with a regular massage routine focusing on the muscles in the lower back, buttocks and legs in addition to partaking in extension-biased exercise and flexibility training will help lessen pain associated with sciatica and help sufferers feel better when the condition worsens, which can also affect sleep, mobility and flexibility.