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Low Back Pain and Sciatica
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Experiences with Low Back Pain and Sciatica and Massage Therapy

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Posted 10 years ago

There are several reasons why people experience sciatic pain. The first most common in my experience is technically referred to as pseudo sciatica or piriformis syndrome. This is caused by a tightness in the piriformis muscle that attaches at the hip bone and front edge of the sacrum. This muscle lies superficially to the sciatic nerve. When a person sits too much or for a variety of reasons gets tight gluteal and piriformis muscles, the pressure on the sciatic nerve can create sciatica like symptoms namely moderate to severe pain in the buttocks often running down the side or front of the leg, sometimes all the way to the foot, this can associated with symptoms of burning sensations and in extreme conditions numbing and tingling in along the nerve pathway in the leg and feet. When it is truly piriformis syndrome correcting the pelvic alignment and dealing with the hypertoned muscles in the buttocks, hamstrings and quadriceps, iliotibial band and tensor fascia latae muscles can produce significant relief. Long term relief is also supported with the right stretches and exercises to address imbalances, tightness and dysfunctional movement patterns. Massage works really well in the right hands to create space and break the cycle of nerve irritation in this case. There are tests we do to differentiate pseudo sciatica from true sciatica which is nerve root impingement in the lumbar spine often associated with disc herniation. While it is much more difficult for us to eliminate true sciatic symptoms we can help the body create an environment where the discs have more space to re-hydrate, move back into place and create less nerve irritation. There will always be some people who will require surgery to obtain relief. Massage can go a long way to reducing the severity of the symptoms and promoting better alignment and mobility of surrounding structures. Not just any massage therapist will be able to deliver this level of treatment it requires a deep understanding of the body and a healthy set of techniques. Training from such teachers programs like Tom Myers KMI structural Integration practitioners, Paul St. John, Upledger, Osteopathic training like Muscle energy technique, Positional release and cranio sacral can get you close to a practitioner with the right skill sets. I hope this is helpful. Randall Friedman, RMT

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Posted 10 years ago

Pretty much any time I am working to treat my back pain (which usually includes me seeing an acupuncturist and doing some psychotherapy), I occasionally get a massage as well. I especially find massage to be helpful when I go to a practitioner who practices some-sort of holistic massage... what I mean by that is someone who uses their massage skills to redirect energy, actually loosen my muscles, and can talk with me about how to stretch and self-massage to help my pain. Going to just any CMT doesn't always help - having someone rub on your back can be great, but only those who have a real sense of the body and how to help it can really help treat the cause of the pain...at least that's my opinion.

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Posted 10 years ago

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