The very thought of sciatic pain can make many of us have nightmares. And why not, when this pain is as irritating as it is common. Ranging from pain levels of slight discomfort to seriously debilitating movement, sciatica affects a lot of people but its prime target is the age group between 25-50 years.
Sciatica typically refers to the dull aching pain; which sometimes takes a sharp, shooting form due to the pressure it puts on the sciatic nerve. The pain originates from the lumbar regions and radiates down to the leg and the foot often causing numbness and weakness in its wake.
Sciatica has a variety of risk factors like age, excessive weight gain, smoking, sedentary lifestyle, strenuous physical activities etc. The moving out (slipping) of the soft, gel filled disc which acts as a cushion and separates our vertebrae, or it’s rupture; (commonly referred to as slipped disc and herniated disc respectively) are among the other known causes of sciatica. Another significant cause of sciatica is the Piriformis Syndrome, where the piriformis muscle puts pressure on the sciatic nerve causing an individual to experience numbness and pain in the affected leg.
While in case of a slipped or ruptured disc, there isn’t much hope because it is a lifelong condition; there is still good news if your sciatic pain is because of the piriformis muscle. Massage therapy can help quite significantly in the latter case and goes a long way in helping the patient deal with the pain.
The piriformis is a powerful deep rotator muscle for the leg; and hence, when tight due to pressure, it cause discomfort and pain by trapping in the sciatic nerves. Relief can be brought about by deep vein and powerful massage movements that help to release the trigger points. The massage therapist may also try to stretch and lengthen the muscle and use ice to help with the inflammation – all of which alleviates pain which is caused by the piriformis.
Another trigger point of sciatic pain can be the gluteal muscles, most of which radiate down to the leg. Deep tissue massage of the gluteus maximus, gluteus minimus, and the quadratus muscles helps in this case. The idea is to apply friction and release the trigger points so that the pain can be alleviated.
However, during this kind of massage, an individual should be careful to note that there might be some level of discomfort. Since the muscles are being stretched, they will protest. A good idea is to have a good understanding about what to expect before going forward with such kind of massages. But like any decent massage therapist will tell you, most sciatic pain relieving massages involve a certain degree of discomfort; but never pain.
An individual should be able to differentiate between the two and should promptly inform the masseur if at any time he feels that the discomfort has travelled beyond his pain threshold limits. Massage is all about relieving the pain, not causing it.