Massage Therapy for Sciatica
What is a Sciatica?
Sciatica is characterised by pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body, beginning at your lower back, and running through your hips and buttocks down to each leg. In most cases, sciatica affects only one side of the body.
Sciatica often occurs when the sciatic nerve is compressed by a herniated disc or bone spur. This causes inflammation, pain, and sometimes numbness in the affected side. Some cases of sciatica pain can even be due to an irritation of the sciatic nerve during pregnancy.
Sciatica it is a symptom of an underlying medical condition, such as a lumbar herniated disc, degenerative disc disease, or spinal stenosis. It is not a medical condition in and of itself.
Please note that in the early stages of an acute disc problem the body goes into a severe shut down mode. This particularly affects the forward and backward bending muscles (erector spinae) and side bending (quadratus lumborum) muscles.
This is a part of your protective mechanism. For this reason we do NOT advise using pressure tools for the first 6-8 weeks or until the acute crisis has ended. Pressure tools can be safely used thereafter, but always consult a doctor or therapist if you are concerned.
What are the Symptoms of Sciatica?
The pain associated with sciatica can vary in degree. Some people experience infrequent pain while others are incapacitated by the pain.
Sciatica is often characterised by the following symptoms. You may experience only one or a combination:
- Constant pain in one side of the leg or buttock
- Pain worsens when sitting
- Burning, tingling, or searing pain in the leg
- Weakness, numbness, or difficulty moving the leg or foot
- A sharp pain which might affect your ability to walk or to even stand up
These symptoms might worsen when you cough, sneeze, or sit for a long period of time.
Who is Prone to a Sciatica?
The probability of experiencing pain from sciatica peaks in the 50s and then declines.
It is rare for persons under the age of 20 to suffer from this condition. Persons who suffer from degenerative arthritis of the lumbar spine, lumbar disc diseases, slipped disc, or a trauma or injury to the lumbar spine are at a higher risk of suffering from sciatica.
Obesity or being overweight can increase the risk of sciatica, as the weight will increase stress on the spine. A job that requires you to twist your back, carry heavy objects, or drive a motor vehicle for long periods of time, may also contribute to sciatica.
People suffering from diabetes are at increased risk as well, because the way that the body uses blood sugar increases the risk of nerve damage.
TRIGGER POINT SELF TREATMENT TECHNIQUE:
This technique involves locating the heart of the trigger/tender point. When this is compressed it may well trigger a specific referred pain map (preferably reproducing your symptoms). This technique involves applying direct, gentle and sustained pressure to the point:
1. Identify the tender/trigger point you wish to work on (see illustration above).
2. Place the host muscle in a comfortable position, where it is relaxed and can undergo full stretch.
3. Apply gentle, gradually increasing pressure to the tender point until you feel resistance. This should be experienced as discomfort and not as pain.
4. Apply sustained pressure until you feel the tender point yield and soften. This can take from a few seconds to several minutes.
5. Steps 3-4 can be repeated, gradually increasing the pressure on the tender/trigger point until it has fully yielded.
6. To achieve a better result, you can try to change the direction of pressure during these repetitions.
TRIGGER POINT SELF HELP - ADVICE
There are many reasons why you might have trigger points, so it is important to consider your trigger point pain in the context of the rest of your body. It must be stressed that the techniques offered on this page are not a substitute for therapy from a qualified practitioner; although aches and pains from trigger points are common, there can sometimes be an underlying pathology.
It is advisable to always seek a proper diagnosis from a qualified medical practitioner or experienced manual therapist.
Stretching is an important part of the rehabilitation process and should begin as soon as pain allows and be continued throughout the rehabilitation program and beyond - Good maintenance prevents re-injury.
Keep one leg on ground; put one foot on chair or a step with leg straight
Bend forward at the hip. Hold for 30 seconds
Repeat on other side
- Do not attempt to touch your toes as this will stretch your back, and the goal of this exercise is to isolate your hamstring muscles in the leg that is being supported by the chair
Repeat 3 times on each side, twice daily