Sciatic pain is related to the irritation of the sciatic nerve, which starts in the lower back and goes downward into the legs. One of the more effective ways to manage this type of pain is with massage therapy. Some techniques involve targeting deep tissues, while others focus on trigger points or muscular and nervous system issues. Regardless of which approach to massage therapy you prefer, there are some positive ways massage techniques can affect sciatic pain. If you’re experiencing severe or long-lasting back pain that hasn’t been diagnosed by a physician, see a Los Angeles spine surgeon before trying any form of therapy.
If spine-supporting muscles in your lower back, trunk, and core areas are tight or tense, the resulting pressure may irritate your sciatic nerve. Tight muscles can also develop sensitive spots or knots called trigger points, which can make sciatica symptoms even more disruptive. Massage therapy addresses such issues by:
Soft tissue massage can stimulate blood vessels in the affected area around the sciatic nerve, resulting in better circulation of blood and the beneficial nutrients it contains. Increased circulation also helps with soft tissue healing, which reduces instances of inflammation—a major contributing factor to sciatic nerve irritation.
The manipulation of tissues in the lower back area with various massage techniques stimulates specialized receptors in the brain. These nerve fibers help the body produce hormones called endorphins, which have a sort of natural pain-relieving effect. These so-called “feel-good” hormones sometimes provide the same level of relief as certain painkillers. Boosting endorphin production may also contribute to:
• Relying less on medication
• Being able to participate more in physical therapy sessions
• Avoiding surgery if sciatica is sufficiently managed
The stimulation of special pressure receptors in the brain can have the opposite effect on levels of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress, which means regular massages could help you remain relaxed and calm due to lower stress levels. Reducing stress can also lessen the perception of pain.
For most people with sciatica, massage therapy is perfectly safe when performed by a licensed therapist. However, there’s the possibility of added discomfort if too much pressure is applied. Be vocal during your sessions to give your therapist a better idea of how much tissue stimulation you need. Massage sessions may also involve the use of:
As for choosing the type of massage that’s right for you, go by what you hope to accomplish with your sessions. For instance, if your main goal is to ease tension in your lower back that’s contributing to sciatica, you may benefit most from a massage that involves muscle relaxation techniques. However, a deep tissue massage could be more effective if you want to naturally ease your pain by boosting endorphin levels. Your doctor or a spine specialist can offer more specific suggestions.
If sciatica is causing your back pain, treatments can vary widely, from ice and heat applications to massage therapy to back fusion alternatives. Los Angeles patients should see a spine specialist for an accurate diagnosis and a personalized treatment plan. The spinal health experts at The Spine Institute have years of experience with all aspects of back health. Call one of our friendly representatives today at 310-828-7757 to schedule a consultation.