Massage Therapy For Sciatica
Sciatica is a common ailment. It is estimated that close to 40% of the adult population will experience sciatica at some point in their lives. Interestingly, sciatica is not an actual medical problem, but rather it is the term that is given to refer to pain associated with injury or distress to the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the human body, originating in the lower lumbar region of the spine, passing between the vertebrae and the bones of the pelvis, and running down the buttocks and back of the leg, before ending at the foot.
The pain that is referred to as sciatica usually originates with an injury to the lower back, or from some type of compression of the nerve due to inflammation or illness. Patients describe acute pain that radiates from the lumbar region down the back of the leg when describing symptoms to their healthcare providers. Massage therapy is one of several treatments that has been shown to mitigate the pain associated with sciatica.
How Does Massage Therapy Help The Pain of Sciatica?
When lower back muscles become tight or inflamed they can place pressure on the root of the sciatic nerve, which can trigger pain that creates a burning or throbbing sensation in the buttocks, leg and foot. Massage therapy can relieve tension and reduce inflammation in the muscles surrounding the nerve, which can reduce or eliminate the nerve constriction and the resulting pain.
Additionally, studies reported on by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have shown that cortisol (stress) levels are reduced and dopamine (pleasure) levels increase with massage therapy. This may be another reason that massage therapy is recommended as a treatment for sciatic pain.
Can Massage Cure Sciatica?
Technically speaking, sciatica can’t be cured, but thankfully, in many cases the pain symptoms associated with it can be ameliorated with the use of massage therapy and/or chiropractic care. Some patients may require surgery if less invasive therapies do not substantially reduce the occurrence of pain episodes. Prescription drugs may also be prescribed in conjunction with massage for more immediate relief.
Many insurance companies cover some or all of the cost of massage therapy for treatment of sciatica. However, you should check with your provider if you have any questions regarding treatment coverage.
If you are experiencing pain that you think may be sciatica, or have been diagnosed with the condition you may want to discuss massage as a therapeutic option with your healthcare provider.