Sciatica is a common condition that is caused by irritation, damage or compression of the sciatic nerve.
Symptoms vary from person to person and can include a numb or tingling sensation or more severe pain that starts at your lower back and travels down your legs to your feet.
While not always a serious health risk, the discomfort caused can be debilitating and make everyday actions such as sitting or lying down more of a struggle than they should be.
The good news is that there are many self-help treatments you can try to reduce symptoms—one of which is massage therapy.
What is massage therapy?
Once you have been diagnosed with sciatica, massage therapy can be used to provide long-term pain relief.
The technique a masseuse will use when massaging your lower back for sciatica will depend on where your pain is and which muscles are affected. However, the treatment is usually targeted towards the muscles in the lower back, as this is where the sciatic nerve starts, as well as other muscles affected by the sciatic nerve, such as the upper legs, hips and buttocks.
Pressure and technique will vary depending on the severity of your condition and can range from a gentle vibration to long strokes that penetrate deep into the muscle tissues. Some techniques focus on one particular spot, while others apply constant pressure to several areas at once.
The massage may feel uncomfortable at first, and you may require several sessions before you feel any kind of relief from the pain. If you feel sore after the treatment, you can apply heat to the affected area to ease discomfort. Regular stretching can also help to improve the condition and speed up the healing time.
How does massage therapy help relieve sciatica pain?
Massage therapy can help relieve sciatic pain, along with helping to
- promote healthy blood circulation, which can ease nerve tenderness and built up tension,
- reduce muscle tightness and spasms,
- decrease nerve inflammation and compression,
- and improve functioning along the sciatic nerve.
Sitting for long periods of time or sleeping can cause sciatic pain to worsen, and regular massage can help to make these actions more comfortable.
By lessening the severity of sciatic nerve pain and improving the healing process, the treatment can significantly reduce the need for medication or surgery.