Sciatic Nerve Pain
Treating Sciatica with Massage Therapy
Sciatic nerve pain is known as sciatica. Sciatica presents as what I would describe as a nervy pain that occurs in the lower back, buttocks and/or down the back of the leg. The pain associated with sciatica is changeable. It can be sharp or dull, constant or intermittent, isolated in just the buttocks or lower back or cause leg pain that stops at the knee or runs all the way down to the feet.
The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body. It starts in the low back and runs all the way down the back of the leg to the foot. We have a sciatic nerve on each side of our body, but sciatica commonly occurs in only one side.
Sciatic nerve pain can result from sitting in one position too long, muscle spasms, wearing high heels, obesity, slipped discs, osteoarthritis, or pregnancy. The pain is caused by the nerve being compressed or pinched by tight muscles, slipped discs or bone spurs.
The piriformis is a muscle in the buttocks that lays beneath the gluteal muscles. It is a thin muscle that runs from the sacrum diagonally across the buttock to the top of the outer thigh. The sciatic nerve runs just under this muscle. When it becomes tight it compresses the sciatic nerve and causes pain. Tightness in the piriformis is a common cause of sciatica.
Knowing the cause of your sciatic nerve pain will help determine how to treat it. There are two simple tests that you can do that will help you determine whether your pain is true sciatica or piriformis syndrome.
True Sciatica Test
Sit up straight in a chair with both feet resting flat on the floor. On the side that you experience pain straighten your leg out so that it is parallel with the floor. If doing this makes your pain worse chances are you have true sciatica.
Piriformis Syndrome Test
Sit up straight in a chair. On the side that you experience pain pull your knee up towards your chest. Now use your opposite hand to pull the knee towards your opposite shoulder. If this maneuver increases your sciatic nerve pain you have piriformis syndrome.
Other Muscle Impingement
Besides the piriformis the sciatic nerve can get impinged in other muscles along the path of the leg causing sciatic nerve pain. Your nerve doesn't just have to be radiating pain down the leg. Sometimes you may be experiencing pain radiating up the leg. Because you feel the pain all at once it can be difficult to know where it is coming from. Besides the stretches I will show you in this book I'll also show you some self-massage techniques you can use to loosen the muscles all the way day the leg. This will help get rid of tension in muscles that could be pinching your nerve.
If your sciatic nerve pain is caused by muscular compression, massage can help it quite a bit. Positional release and trigger point therapy are two methods that work well to loosen the piriformis. I'd suggest seeing a neuromuscular therapist or a deep tissue therapist.
At one point in my life when I was doing a lot of writing, I developed sciatica. It seemed to sneak up on me all at once one day. I think I was just too involved in the the work I was doing to notice the pain that was starting in the back of my leg. It hurt to sit down. It hurt to walk. My leg throbbed all night long.
I used a similar technique to get rid of my sciatic nerve pain that I used when I had carpal tunnel syndrome. I did yoga every morning. I massaged myself everyday. It is easy to work on your piriformis using a tennis ball. I got regular massages every week. I also had to correct my posture when I sat at the computer and took frequent breaks from working to get up and walk around.
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I wrote a guide that will help you treat your sciatic nerve pain at home. It includes information about the cause of your pain, self-massage tips, stretches and exercises you can do to get rid of your pain. I also let you know what dietary and lifestyle changes you can make to eliminate and prevent sciatic nerve problems.
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