Sciatica is extremely common and affects around 40% of the US population. Many of those dealing with sciatica are aware of how painful and uncomfortable it can be. Sciatica can interfere with your daily activities such as walking, standing, and even sitting. This pain can affect one or both sides of the body, ranging in severity from mild to debilitating.
If you’re dealing with sciatica or suspect you may have it, you may be wondering if getting a massage for sciatica can help alleviate symptoms. This article will explain sciatica, its causes and symptoms, and whether or not getting a massage is the best treatment for you.
What Is Sciatica?
Sciatica is a condition that affects the sciatic nerve. Located in the leg, the sciatic nerve is the longest and thickest nerve in the entire body that originates in the gluteal area with nerve roots in the lumbar and sacrum regions of the spine. The sciatic nerve extends from the base of the spine down through the leg into the feet with branching nerve paths. The sciatic nerve controls the muscles in the back of the knee and the lower leg, and also provides sensation for the thigh, lower leg, and bottom of the foot.
When it is damaged or exposed to excess pressure, the sciatic nerve can become irritated, causing various symptoms including:
- Weakness in the feet and legs
- Burning, shooting, or radiating pain from the lumbar region to the feet
- Numbness in feet and legs
- A “pins-and-needles” sensation in the feet and/or legs
- Discomfort in the leg
- Pain when bending over or when standing from a seated position
Sciatic pain can affect one or both legs simultaneously. For instance, the left sciatic nerve may be irritated and only manifests symptoms in the left leg or left side of the lumbar region. It’s also possible to experience varying symptoms depending on how the roots of the sciatic nerve are affected by pressure. You could experience pain in the left side of the hip but weakness and numbness in the right leg.
Because sciatica arises from uneven pressure or damage to the sciatic nerve, conditions that affect the spine are common causes. Sciatica can be caused by:
- Herniated discs: One of the most common causes of sciatica, a herniated disc occurs when the cushioning pads between your vertebrae protrude or bulge, changing the way pressure is applied to the sciatic nerve.
- Thoracic kyphosis: Kyphosis occurs when your forward spinal curvature becomes irregular. This often causes a hunched back where excess pressure is applied onto the sciatic nerve.
- Scoliosis: Scoliosis is an irregular lateral curvature of the spine that can cause compression on one of both sides of the sciatic nerve due to the uneven weight distribution from the torso.
- Pelvic asymmetry: The sciatic nerve travels through the sacroiliac joints located in the pelvis before exiting into the leg, excess pressure on the hips from an asymmetrical pelvis can lead to nerve entrapment and cause sciatica.
- Leg asymmetry: When one leg is shorter than the other, the imbalance of pressure when standing or walking can cause tightness, tension, and compression on the sciatic nerve.
Acute sciatica typically lasts for less than eight weeks. If it persists for longer, it can develop into chronic sciatica.
Should I Get a Massage for Sciatica?
Because of how sciatica can affect muscles, it makes sense to contemplate whether or not getting a massage for sciatica would help alleviate symptoms. The good news is that because of how sciatica affects the muscles, massage therapy can often be a great form of short-term relief.
Massage therapy for sciatica is great for the muscles in the region, offering the following benefits:
- Soothing and relaxing tense muscles
- Breaking up scar tissue
- Improving circulation to promote healing
- Reducing pain and stress by releasing endorphins
When muscles are tense or have built-up scar tissue, they can apply excess pressure onto the sciatic nerve. Massage therapy can lessen muscle tension, thereby reducing pressure on the nerve and alleviating pain and other symptoms.
However, getting a massage for sciatica may not provide the best long-term treatment. If you have a condition that affects the alignment of the spine, such as kyphosis or leg asymmetry, massage therapy alone will not reduce the pressure on the nerve.
Get Relief From Sciatica with PostureWorks and Chiropractic BioPhysics®
Getting a massage for sciatica can be the first line of defense, especially for acute sciatica. However, if your sciatica stems from spinal misalignment, it may only offer temporary relief from symptoms. If you have or believe you may have a postural issue, it could be the root cause of your sciatica.
The team at PostureWorks uses Chiropractic BioPhysics® to properly assess the underlying cause of sciatica and develop a fully customized, non-invasive treatment plan consisting of postural exercises, neuromuscular education, spinal alignment traction, and massage therapy that is tailored to your unique needs.
With Chiropractic BioPhysics®, we look at your entire medical history and provide an in-depth biometric analysis of your spine and posture to isolate the origin of your pain and alleviate pressure on the sciatic nerve. This way, you can get back to doing the things you love without worrying about sciatic pain.
Contact us today to learn more about getting a massage for sciatica or to schedule your appointment with PostureWorks.
Chiropractic BioPhysics®, or CBP, is a deeply researched and results-oriented corrective care technique. CBP-trained chiropractors aim to realign the spine back to health and optimal function. As with all chiropractic care, CBP is conservative, painless, and non-invasive.