Is massage good for sciatica? It depends. The human back is a complicated structure. Whether massage can help your sciatica may depend on your individual back’s characteristics, as well as how you’ve used it over the years.
The Delicate Human Back
Evolution hasn’t had time to engineer the human back quite as effectively as it has, say the hand, or the arm. Walking upright was a fairly late chapter in our development. And a back that could support such behavior is therefore one of our newer features. If you’ve ever had back pain, you know that the bugs aren’t all worked out yet. They may never be. And one of the newer requirements we impose on our backs — extended sitting — promises whole new realms of adjustment and, of course, pain.
If you’ve ever felt pain that starts in your lower back, goes into your butt, then travels down the back of your leg, you have probably experienced sciatica. Sciatica happens when something compresses the sciatic nerve, which runs along the same route as the pain I just described. It typically affects only one side of the body, and it can range from mild to excruciating. It does not always last and frequently disappears spontaneously. It’s not a particular disease, but a symptom. There are a number of things that can compress the sciatic nerve: a herniated disc, a tumor, a vertebral bone spur, muscle tension. (Note: sciatica can also result from nerve damage due to diabetes.)
Massage for Sciatica
If your sciatica comes from a serious medical condition, it requires medical diagnosis and treatment, which could even involve surgery. But if it comes from muscle tension, massage therapy might be in order, and you don’t need a doctor’s visit or even a prescription for that. Competent massage relieves muscle tension, and when the muscle tension goes away, so does the pressure on the sciatic nerve. In fact, a 2014 study reported that deep tissue massage is as effective on low back pain as NSAIDs. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know how I feel about NSAIDs. If you can get pain relief without them, you’re better off.
Reducing muscle tension can be enough to break the tension-pain cycle, which is good for your sciatica. But there is another effect as well. That there is a relationship between massage and endorphins has not been extensively documented, but it is widely believed. I recently did a Google search on “massage and endorphins,” and it yielded more than 1.3 million hits.
Massage Here at Peak
“Endorphin,” of course, is a contraction for “endogenous morphine.” Endorphins are a natural pain reliever. Whether or not massage’s ability to release endorphins has been documented, finding out if it will do it for you is risk-free. Massage therapy is one of the safest wellness treatments known.
Massage is one of the recovery/wellness services we offer here at Peak. Our licensed massage therapists can perform 30-, 60-, or 90-minute sessions. Your therapist will do a careful intake to gain a full understanding of what you need. Then she or he will use pressure or rubbing to manipulate your soft tissue — muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia. Many people feel improvements immediately after a massage. But sometimes, it can take several days for the full benefits to be experienced.
If you have muscle-tension sciatica, you don’t have to put up with the pain. Book a massage at Peak Recovery & Health Center.