If you have ever had a pain in your low back that felt like it was radiating down through your buttocks, and even down the back of your leg, you probably have experienced Sciatica. Sciatica is a term used describe the pain that radiates down the path of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve runs down the low back, through the buttocks, and down into the legs. Usually Sciatica affects only one side of the body.
Sciatica is often a result of compression of the sciatic nerve that causes inflammation, pain, numbness, and even tingling. The pain can be felt along any part of the sciatic nerve path, from the low back, the buttocks, to the back of the legs, but most commonly it is felt radiating down all three areas. It can even cause muscle weakness in the leg and foot.
Sciatica can occur from several spinal conditions:
Some risk factors for Sciatica include:
Sciatica can interfere with your daily activities. The pain can make sitting, standing, and walking difficult to do. Your doctor will most likely recommend doing preventative measures to help reduce your chances of a flare up, such as maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise, strengthen your muscles and to work on proper posture and good body mechanics during activities, as well as wearing comfortable shoes for best alignment and support. For many people with Sciatica, simply resting, icing the area, and taking over-the-counter pain pills can help alleviate some of the pain so that you can go about your day. In severe cases, your doctor may recommend surgery.
Another complimentary, and effective way, to help relieve Sciatica is to receive massage therapy. Massage therapy will not cure the underlying cause of the pain, such as bone spurs, but it can help reduce the pain and inflammation that are symptoms from the compression of the sciatic nerve. Massage can help reduce tension and tight muscles that could be pinching and adding pressure to the sciatic nerve. Massages also releases the feel-good endorphins that help relieve pain, allowing your body to relax and feel better without taking medications. Massage therapy has been long known for being an enjoyable source of pain management, and a great compliment to the recommended preventative measures your doctor might suggest. Ask your doctor about giving massage therapy a try to help relieve your Sciatica.
Courtney Truax, LMT is a graduate of East West College of the Healing Arts in Portland, Oregon. She is licensed through the Oregon Board of Massage Therapy and a member of the American Massage Therapy Association. She has her own studio massage practice in the heart of downtown Lake Oswego, Oregon.