What is sciatica?
Sciatica refers to back pain caused by a problem with the sciatic nerve. This is a large nerve that runs from the lower back down the back of each leg. When something injures or puts pressure on the sciatic nerve, it can cause pain in the lower back that spreads to the hip, buttocks, and leg. Up to 90% of people recover from sciatica without surgery.
Most people who get sciatica are between the ages of 30 and 50. Women may be more likely to develop the problem during pregnancy because of pressure on the sciatic nerve from the developing uterus.
Symptoms of Sciatica
The most common symptom of sciatica is lower back pain that extends through the hip and buttock and down one leg. The pain usually affects only one leg and may get worse when you sit, cough, or sneeze. The leg may also feel numb, weak, or tingly at times. The symptoms of sciatica tend to appear suddenly and can last for days or weeks.
What causes Sciatica pain
1. Herniated Disk
The most common cause of sciatica is a herniated disk. Disks act like cushions between the vertebrae of your spine. These disks get weaker as you age and become more vulnerable to injury. Sometimes the gel-like center of a disk pushes through its outer lining and presses on the roots of the sciatic nerve. About 1 in 50 people will get a herniated disk at some point in life. Up to a quarter of them will have symptoms that last more than 6 weeks.
2. Spinal Stenosis
Natural wear and tear of the vertebrae can lead to a narrowing of the spinal canal. This narrowing, called spinal stenosis, may put pressure on the roots of the sciatic nerve. Spinal stenosis is more common in adults over age 60.
3. Spinal tumors
In rare cases, sciatica may result from tumors growing inside or along the spinal cord or sciatic nerve. As a tumor grows, it may put pressure on the nerves that branch off from the spinal cord.
4. Piriformis Syndrome
The piriformis is a muscle found deep inside the buttocks. It connects the lower spine to the upper thighbone and runs directly over the sciatic nerve. If this muscle goes into spasm, it can put pressure on the sciatic nerve, triggering symptoms of sciatica. Piriformis syndrome is more common in women.
5. Carrying a fat Wallet
How Do I find the right therapist
If you’d like to give massage for sciatica a try, it’s important to choose a qualified massage therapist who has experience in treating sciatica symptoms.
To find a massage therapist, you can:
- ask your doctor for a referral
- ask friends and family for a recommendation
- search the American Massage Therapy Association’s database
- use the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork’s database
Here are some things to consider when choosing a massage therapist:
- Your personal preference. Does the gender of the massage therapist matter to you? Some people are more comfortable with therapists of the same gender.
- Location. Choose a massage therapist whose practice is close by or easy to get to.
- Hours. You want to make sure that they offer appointments during hours that work with your schedule.
- Cost. Ask how much they charge per session and about any cost-saving incentives, such as a sliding-scale option.
- Credentials. Make sure the professional you choose is licensed to practice massage therapy in your state. Most states regulate the massage therapy profession. Be sure to ask about their credentials.
- Type of massage. Some massage therapists are trained in several types of massage while others focus one or two types. Ask what types of massage they’re most familiar with.
- Experience treating sciatica. Talk to your massage therapist about your sciatica and ask if they have experience in treating sciatic pain.
Before you first session, make sure to tell them about any other health conditions you have. You may also want to check in with your health insurance provider. Some cover massage therapy, especially for an underlying condition.
A Demo video of Massage for Sciatica
Massage for sciatica won’t cure the underlying cause of your pain in most cases, but it can help to temporarily relieve your symptoms and improve your quality of life. Speak to your doctor about your symptoms before starting massage therapy to make sure it’s safe for you.