Sciatica is inflammation of the sciatic nerve. It is characterized by aching or cramping sensations and shooting or burning pain in the buttocks and down the leg into the foot. Sometimes the discomfort is accompanied by tingling, reduced sensation or numbness, paresthesia ( pins and needles sensation), and even loss of function. True sciatica involves irritation to the sciatic nerve near its root at the spinal cord, which may be caused by more serious pathology. Spinal cord or nerve root impingement should be examined and diagnosed by a healthcare professional. The nervous system is not within the massage therapy scope of practice, and treating a nerve root is inappropriate.
The symptoms of sciatica can also be caused by irritation or inflammation of the sciatic nerve because of muscular impingement by a tight muscle. One of the deep hip rotator muscles near the ischium.
Sciatica syndrome is a result of impingement of the sciatic nerve by the muscle. Incorrect form or improper gait often leads to tightness and inflexibility. The condition occurs more frequently in women than men (6:1). When it becomes tight it puts pressure on the underlying nerve, causing pain similar to sciatica. The pain usually starts in the mid-gluteal region and radiates down the back of the thigh.
Cause of injury
Incorrect form or gait while walking or jogging. Weak gluteal muscles and /or tight adductor muscles.
Signs and symptoms
Pain along the sciatic nerve. Pain when climbing stairs or walking up an incline. Increased pain after prolonged sitting.
Complications if left unattended
Chronic pain will result if left untreated. The tight muscle could also become irritated causing stress on the tendons and points of attachment.
RICER. Anti-inflammatory medication. Then heat and massage to promote blood flow and healing.
Rehabilitation and prevention
During rehabilitation a gradual return to activity and continued stretching of the hip muscles is essential. Start with lower exercise intensity or duration. Identifying the factors that caused the problem is also important. Strengthening the gluteal muscles and increasing the flexibility of the adductor will help to alleviate some of the stress and prevent the muscle from becoming tight. Maintaining a good stretching regimen to keep the muscle flexible will help, while dealing with the other issues.
Sciatica syndrome seldom results in long-term problems when treated properly. A corticosteroid injection or other invasive method may be required to alleviate symptoms.
Sports & Deep Tissue Massage
is indicated for sciatic nerve irritation if there is a muscular cause because it can relax the problematic muscle tissue and relieve the pressure on the nerve.