If you've started to have tingling or sharp back pain that radiates down your buttocks and legs, you may have sciatica, or pressure on the sciatic nerve (the longest nerve in your body, which runs down from your back to your feet). Sciatica can make it difficult for you to do everyday tasks and even sleep at night, so you will want to take care of it as soon as possible. Here are a few options that can help you relieve your pain.
Get a Deep Tissue Massage
The main goal of deep tissue massage is to promote circulation, which in turn encourages your body to heal better. Since your body's natural response to injury is muscle guarding, or the tightening of muscles to prevent further injury, you may inadvertently have more pressure on the sciatic nerve when it needs the surrounding muscles to relax. Go to a place like All Deep Massage & Wellness Clinic Inc for a deep tissue massage, and ask the therapist to focus on your piriformis muscle (this is a small muscle behind the gluteus maximus, located deep in the buttocks). If this muscle is too tight, it can irritate your sciatic nerve. Some other areas that the therapist can work on to remove sciatic tension include:
The quadratus lumborum, the deepest abdominal muscle on your lower back
The hamstring muscles, located below your glutes in the thighs
- The quadratus femoris, located on the posterior side of the hip joint
After your massage, make sure that you are staying hydrated. As the masseuse works on your muscles, toxins are released into the blood stream. Your kidneys will be able to flush out these waste materials easier if you are drinking plenty of water.
Rule Out Other Issues
While a massage may be all that's needed to promote natural healing in your body, it may not be all that's needed if sciatica is a symptom of a deeper problem. For instance, you may want to be tested for diabetes since neuropathy (numbness, tingling, and pain from nerve damage) can occur when blood sugars are high.
While muscles can irritate the sciatic nerve, a herniated disk or bone spur (an overgrowth of bone on your spine) can also pinch it, meaning you will either need to see a chiropractor for an adjustment, or in serious cases, another physician for surgery. If you are a senior and/or have osteoarthritis, you may be more prone to the development of bone spurs.
Exercise and Stretch
If you are in pain, the last thing you may want to do is exercise. However, there are definitely low-impact options that can relieve your sciatica. For instance, Livestrong.com says that the buoyancy of swimming can help relieve some of the pressure you may be experiencing. And since exercise increases endorphins, your body's "feel good" chemicals, you may lower your pain. If exercise is just too unrealistic at this point, get regular massages and stretch afterwards while your muscles are still warm and loose. Back extensions, standing-hamstring stretches, and knee-to-chest stretches are all good ways to relieve sciatica.