Your backbone is such an important structure that the literary guys refer everything to as a “backbone” that is capable of providing support. Of the many enemies of the back, the most brutal one is sciatica. To combat this villain you ought to carry the ammunition of massage. Thus, massage for sciatica is a must.
The terms low back pain and sciatica are usually interchanged. In this article low back pain refers to any sort of back pain i.e. sciatic nerve pain or muscular pain while sciatica refers to neuropathic pain only.
What Is Sciatica?
The sciatic nerve is one of the largest nerves of your body. It innervates the lower half of your body, passing from the buttocks, into the legs, and finally up to the feet. Inflammation of this nerve is known as sciatica. This is most commonly seen in patients suffering from chronic low back pain.
Sciatica can have serious consequences as it debilitates life. The annual incidence of sciatica is found to be between 1 and 5%. The lifetime incidence of this debilitation was found to be 10-40% in a report.
Signs And Symptoms
The most common complaints of people suffering from sciatica include:
The sciatic nerve is usually felt on only one side of the body. It is usually an excruciating pain that radiates from one point to another. These points vary between individuals.
For some, the pain radiates from the buttock and extends up to the leg while others have reported pain in the foot (toe) too.
Due to the long course of the nerve, the pain presentation varies greatly. A number of patients report improvements in symptoms with changes in posture. Some find relief when lying down or resting while others have a triggered response on sitting down and prefer staying in a standing or semi-reclined position.
The symptoms may aggravate with bending, and twisting of the spine. Activities such as sneezing, or coughing can also put you in a lot of agonies.
Burning And Tingling
It isn’t necessary that you feel pain only. Neuropathic issues (nerve issues) can present themselves as a burning sensation too. According to studies, the burning is felt deep in the buttocks.
Tingling in the legs is relatively rare but has been felt by some patients.
The participants of a study exclaimed that they were most bothered with the leg pain followed by a numbness (paresthesia) and leg pain. Thus, it was concluded that numbness in the leg can be a great deal of discomfort.
Patients may experience a combination of different symptoms that makes it worst.
Causes Of Sciatica
Inflammation of the sciatic nerve can be attributed to a number of causes. It is the impingement of the sciatic nerve that causes the symptoms.
The most common causes of sciatic nerve impingement/damage include:
- Herniation of a vertebral disc (disc slip)
- A degenerative bone disease that affects the spine (forming bone spurs)
- injury or accident (trauma to the spine)
- Prolonged sitting
Who Can Get Sciatica?
The point to ponder here is that ghost of sciatica can haunt anyone. The risk factors associated with sciatica include obesity and increasing age.
Obesity And Old Age
Older people are at a greater risk of falling into the pit of sciatica. Obese people have a higher amount of force/pressure on the muscles of the back that makes them prone to sciatica.
A meta-analysis of different studies found a direct link between obesity/overweight and sciatica in women.
Yes, my friend! If you have a job that requires sticking your bottom to a chair for long, hefty hours then you are very close to developing sciatica. Research suggests that sitting for more than half a day accompanied by improper posture significantly increases your likelihood of acquiring sciatica.
The growth of the fetus can add pressure and weight on the maternal muscles. Therefore, back pain and sciatica during pregnancy are common. Expecting mothers experience shooting pains initiating in the buttock and radiating down to the legs.
Massage For Sciatica
Sciatic nerve pain can gravely impact the quality of your life. Alas! There is no magic wand whose swing will end all pain and misery. The closest to magic in the treatment of sciatica is massage therapy.
Yes! You heard it right. Massage for sciatica can turn the tables for you and bring back the old energy and flexibility in you. There are a number of ways in which a massage can prove to be fruitful in the management of sciatica.
Benefits Of Massage For Sciatica
Prevention From Sciatica
Massage is a great way of preventing the development of sciatica. People of the following categories must have a regular massage for sciatica pain to keep disability far:
- Office workers who work for long hours (sitting on a chair)
- People prone to low back pain
- Bodybuilders who lift heavy weights
- Athletes and players
Massage therapy works in a number of ways to provide relief. According to a study, back massage for sciatica given at the workplace removes the tension of the muscles of employees. This maneuver also leads to a reduction in stress, pain, and thereby, leads to improved job satisfaction. It prevents the sciatic nerve from impinging.
Exposure to long sitting periods leads to musculoskeletal pain and discomfort in the back. The initial symptom of this habit is back pain (due to muscular spasm) but this eventually leads to sciatica. Muscle stiffness is significantly increased after a mere 4.5 hour period of continuous sitting. A 2020 study shows that massage has the potential to reduce muscle stiffness that can lead to sciatica.
It is an open secret that massage for sciatica is the best way to get rid of sciatic nerve pain. The hands of a masseuse can magically relocate your spine and remove the pressure from your aching nerve.
Sciatica massage is a potent way of reducing nonspecific chronic low back pain. Studies suggest that along with pain relief, enhancements in the flexibility of the spine are also noted after a massage/physiotherapy session.
According to a study, massage is an efficacious step in removing prolonged sciatic nerve pain. The study, carried out on a patient suffering from sciatica for 9 months, concluded that specialist massage for sciatica can efficiently eliminate pain and reduce sciatica symptoms.
As per another account, Iranian traditional massage for sciatica is a potent method of treating non-acute sciatica. The participants of the study reported of evident decrease in pain severity and disability.
Massage and acupuncture (a procedure of traditional Chinese Medicine) are effective in providing long-lasting pain relief to patients suffering from sciatica or persistent low back pain, a study suggests.
Correction Of Slipped/Herniated Disc
In a prospective study, it was found that sciatica symptoms were seen in patients with disc herniation at the L4-5 level. Sciatica massage can be aimed at curing the underlying cause. According to a research paper, lumbar disc herniations (that cause sciatic nerve pain) can be cured with a massage.
A slipped and herniated disc can be regressed using massage therapy. As per a case report, relief of sciatica symptoms and regression of extruded lumbar disc was achieved in a 42-year old patient with massage therapy.
This very treatment modality successfully repositions your spine, thereby, ridding you of the cause of sciatica. Evidence suggests that lumbar disc herniation can be effectively treated with massage therapy.
Pressure applied by the hands of a masseuse and exercise can help reposition the displaced lumbar disc. The combination therapy is very effective in eradicating sciatic nerve pain and discomfort.
Sciatica In Pregnancy
Pregnancy-induced sciatica affects only 1% of women across the globe and the causes are the same as the usual sciatic nerve impingement (bulging/herniation of intervertebral disc). However, the condition is a serious complication for childbearing mothers.
In the 1st and 3rd trimester, medications are avoided and great precaution is taken if given. Therefore, the ladies are left with the only option of treatment i.e. massage. According to a study, a 20-min massage for sciatica twice a week leads to an evident reduction in back pain. The massage for sciatic nerve pain also improves mood and reduces anxiety.
Pregnancy is a difficult time for both partners. Husband and wife often experience spaces and distance between one another. This may be due to pregnancy-related depression. Sciatica during this period further aggravates the situation. Massage for sciatica seems to improve mood and mutual relationship (between spouses) along with reductions in back pain.
Quality of life in pregnant women suffering from low back pain is seen to improve in lower back pain. As per a study, sciatica massage also reduces labor pain and increases satisfaction with birth.
Back massage by massage therapist for sciatica is also effective in reducing low back pain in women facing post-partum back pain, a study suggests.
Improved Circulation Of Back Muscles
Research suggests that massage for sciatica greatly improves the blood supply of the lower back. This enhanced blood flow allows greater numbers of healing and repair cells to reach the site and remove inflammatory cells.
Lumbar massage increases the blood flow of the massaged region and leads to a reduction in pain and fatigue.
Reduction In Blood Pressure
It may sound unrealistic but a back massage given for sciatica relief can also have a positive impact on your blood pressure too. It was found in a study that a 20-minute back massage reduces diastolic blood pressure. Improvements in psychological distress were also seen.
Improvement Of Mood And Alleviation Of Stress
An additional advantage of having a back massage can be potent in reducing generalized anxiety and stress too. A study concluded that anxiety levels significantly reduce after a massage from a professional massage therapist for sciatica.
Improvement In Sleep
In a study carried out on 90 patients, it was concluded that massage therapy for sciatica also leads to improvements in diastolic blood pressure. This also had the advantage of improving sleep quality in patients.
Patients suffering from chronic sciatic nerve pain also experience sleep disturbances. Back massages improve breathing and sleep in ICU patients.
Other Ways Of Managing Sciatica
In addition to a massage for sciatica, you can also try these treatment modalities to alleviate symptoms:
The application of warm towels or heating devices is frequently used in the treatment of sciatica. Heat application releases tension from the sore muscles of the back (that may be the culprit of sciatic pain).
Some experts consider alternating hot and cold therapy for having superior results.
Stretches And Exercise
Body stretches improve the flexibility, range of motion, and strength of your muscles. Body experts have identified different sciatica exercises and sciatica stretches that are immensely effective in reducing lower back pain and sciatica.
The most famous stretches include:
- Pigeon pose
- Knee to leg stretch
- Knee to shoulder stretch
- Standing hamstring stretch
- Seated hip stretch
Research shows that yoga is an effective treatment modality in managing intervertebral disc extrusions leading to sciatica. Therefore, adding yoga to your routine can prove to be a fruitful step.
The procedures of acupuncture and acupressure from traditional Chinese medicine help reduce neuropathic pain generating from sciatic nerve compression. According to a meta-analysis, acupuncture shows pain-relieving results better than conventional Western medicine.
Acupuncture involves the insertion of fine needles into the painful site to relieve tension.
Massage for sciatica can have superior effects when combined with cupping therapy. According to a study, cupping therapy (also known as hijama) is found to be more effective in relieving sciatic nerve pain as compared to NSAIDs.
Sciatica is the state of the inflamed sciatic nerve. This very nerve innervates the buttocks, legs, and feet. Inflammation of the sciatic nerve manifests itself as pain, burning, tingling, or numbness in the buttock, leg region.
The nerve impingement can be attributed to disc herniation, injury, or arthritis. Massage for sciatic nerve pain is the most potent way of cure as confirmed by studies. Massage leads to evident reductions in pain, improvement in spine mobility and range of motion.
Added advantages of back massage for sciatica include significant reductions in anxiety, stress, and blood pressure. Improvements in sleep are also noted by people after a massage therapy session for sciatica.