Health and Wellness, Massage therapy

How massage therapy effects lower back pain, sciatica and piriformis syndrome

Sciatica is a condition which affects the sciatic nerve through inflammation and compression on the lumbar and sacral spine. Some conditions that cause inflammation and irritation are sacral iliac sprains, compression injuries such as disc herniation, direct trauma to the nerve, tumors or pregnancy.

Piriformis is similar in a way that the sciatic nerve is irritated by the piriformis muscle, located in the buttock, being hypertonic or tense. The nerve usually runs around or behind the piriformis muscle and in some people right through it. If you feel shooting pain or a burning sensation starting in the buttock there is a good chance it is the pirformis muscle creating the sciatic nerve pain and not a lower back condition.

Shooting pain, burning sensations, numbness and tingling are the usual symptoms of sciatic nerve irritation caused by the conditions listed above. Massage therapy is a very useful tool for elimination of these causes and symptoms. Through the manipulation of soft tissue, the massage therapist can break up the adhesions or "scar tissue" that is formed through stress, injury and overuse etc. Deep tissue massage is proven to eliminate and aid in the recovery of these conditons and should be used as a tool weekly until the condition has resolved. Often adhesions build around the SI joint to the point where it can cause a trigger point or nerve impingement that mimics sciatic pain. It also can cause an achy back and it is easily fixable with just a few massage treatments.

Other aids for recovery include the usage of ice/cold throughout the day with an ice pack or even a cold towel, stretching of the glutes, lower back, hamstrings, and leg adductors. Some well-known stretches that help are bending over and simply hanging and uncontracting your lower back, pigeon pose, bring knees up to your chest one at a time and both, touching your toes, bring your feet together and pushing knees down into the ground and doing the splits. Some other well-known treatments include chiropractic, acupuncture, osteopathy, and a healthy diet.

I have personally seen the majority clients recover after just 3 treatments focused on the lower back, hip, and gluteus muscles. Your muscles will usually feel tender the next day but it's very common, you can avoid some discomfort by taking a hot Epsom salt bath the next day and stay rehydrated, so your fascia stays healthy. Massage is also known to decrease stress and increase the secretion of beneficial hormones like dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin.

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