Have you ever had extreme pain going down the back of one or both legs and didn’t know what to do to stop the pain? Every year millions of people suffer from a condition that can be extremely painful called Sciatica. Because there are different causes of sciatica, we always recommend that anyone complaining of sciatic pain have an x-ray to determine if the cause of the ailment originates with the spine.
The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the human body (about as big around as your thumb) and originates in the low back at the lumbar vertebrae and travels down the back of the legs to the feet. If the sciatic nerve is pinched or compressed somewhere along its length the result can be a burning and stinging sensation traveling down the back of the leg and can make it very difficult to sit or walk for long periods of time.
If an x-ray shows that the cause of the sciatic pain is bone spurs on the spine or a bulging disk pressing on the nerve then your doctor can best prescribe a course of action to correct the problem, as massage will not be able to stop the pain.
However, if an x-ray doesn’t show bone spurs or a bulging disk then the cause of the pain is most likely a tightened piriformis muscle. The buttocks consists of several muscles including the Gluteus Maximus. Under the Gluteus Maximus are six smaller muscles called the deep hip rotators that are responsible for rotating the hip out to the side. One of the rotators, the piriformis, lies directly over the sciatic nerve and if the piriformis is tight or shortened then it will impinge the sciatic nerve and cause the sciatica pain. If this is the case then manipulating the muscles in the hip using medical massage or neuromuscular massage can loosen the piriformis and bring relief from the pain.
At Healing Touch Charlotte we find that usually we can relieve the sciatic pain with anywhere from 1 to 3 sessions and have the client back to their regular routine in almost no time at all. After the massage we usually recommend stretches that are designed to keep the piriformis loose so that the pain won’t return.