The sciatic nerve comes from the lumbosacral plexus, mainly the nerve roots from L4-S3, it is a thick, flat nerve measuring about 2 cm in diameter, descending down the posterior aspect of the leg. It innervates the muscles of the buttocks, hamstring muscles, abductor muscles, with its branches innervating the calf muscles and the muscles of the foot.
Sciatica is the irritation or injury to the sciatic nerve; the symptoms consisting of tingling, numbness, burning, and weakness down the posterior aspect of the leg. The pain and burning can be dull, moderate or severe depending on the gravity of the inflammation. The symptoms of sciatica can also include paralysis and difficulty moving the leg. It is rare that these symptoms are permanent and remain after sciatica has been treated.
There are two types of Sciatica that are defined by the cause and are known as True or False Sciatica. No matter the cause, however, the pathway affected will always remain the same. Nerve pain down the side of the leg is linked to the Obturator nerves and down the anterior portion of the leg is the femoral nerve so would not be considered sciatica.
True Sciatica is characterized by a disc herniation at the level of the L4/L5 and L5/S1 intervertebral discs. The herniated disc will push against the sciatic nerve causing neuropathy; mainly pain and numbness along the posterior aspect of the leg. However, it is important to note that not all herniated discs will lead to neuropathy. It is reported that many people have slight disc herniation that is, in fact, asymptomatic.
False Sciatica is linked to what is called Piriformis Syndrome. The Piriformis muscle is in the buttocks, and assists in the hip rotation and turning the leg outward. Due to continuous sitting and bad posture, the Piriformis can become irritated and spasm, putting pressure on the sciatic nerve. In a small percentage of people, the sciatic nerve passes through the Piriformis muscle, increasing the chances for sciatic nerve irritation.
There are many day to day activities that can negatively affect the health of the sciatic nerve such as prolonged sitting, running, climbing steps and improper lifting of heavy objects.
When it comes to back pain and nerve impairment, it is very important to have an interdisciplinary approach. A doctor should always ensure that any therapies partaken by the person will not cause further injury to the nerve, especially in the case of True Sciatica. They will usually request x-rays and MRIs in order to evaluate the nature of sciatica.
In the case of a disc herniation, it is very important that the sports massage therapist be advised of the herniation, the location, and the severity in order to properly prepare an effective treatment plan. While the sports massager will not be able to impact the actual intervertebral disc, they will be able to keep the muscles of the body healthy. Sports massage techniques will be used to treat the muscular compensations.
Injuries often happen due to imbalances in muscle strength and mobility. A sports massage therapist will evaluate posture, mobility and movement patterns. Depending on the results of the evaluation, the sports massage therapist will give basic exercises and stretches to help begin the healing process until the body is ready for more advanced exercises given by a physiotherapist, athletic therapist or kinesiologist.
Proper core strength; when the core is strong, the body is able to better protect the back and the intervertebral discs
Strengthen and stretch the gluteal muscles to ensure proper Piriformis health
Avoid being in a seated position for prolonged periods of time
Do MacKenzie push-ups 3-10 sets of 10
Contact us today for a relief sports massage to help you with your sciatica