Massage Therapy and Treatment of Sciatica / Piriformis Syndrome / Pseudo Sciatica

Is it really Sciatica?

Many people in San Diego commonly experience some form of Sciatic pain but often don’t know what the real cause is. There are three “conditions” which are often confused with each other, they are Sciatica, Piriformis Syndrome and Pseudo Sciatica. While each of these “conditions” may cause similar symptoms, they each have a separate cause! Sciatica occurs when the Sciatic nerve is compressed when exiting the spinal column. Piriformis Syndrome feels just like sciatica but is caused directly from the piriformis muscle pressing on the sciatic nerve deep in the buttocks.

Pseudo Sciatica, perhaps the least common of the three and the one which is most often misdiagnosed, is not really a problem with the sciatic nerve but instead is caused by a “trigger point” in the Gluteus Minimus Muscle on the side of the hip. It’s very simple to test for, and very quickly addressed, but we will get to that a little later.

What does Sciatica Feel like?

Symptoms of sciatica, piriformis syndrome, and pseudo sciatica include pain, numbness, and weakness in areas including, but not limited to, the lower back, buttocks, down the back of the leg and possibly even down to the toes.

Why do we get sciatica?

The sciatic nerve is the longest and largest nerve in your body, made up of 5 pairs of nerve roots that can be as large around as your middle finger! This makes it a large target easily pressed upon when your body is compressed, tightened, and when things aren’t where they are supposed to be. The most common causes for each type of sciatica are:

Sciatica: A bulging or herniated disk in the lumbar spine at L4-L5 (low back)

Piriformis Syndrome: Piriformis muscle pressing on the sciatic nerve in the buttocks

Pseudo Sciatica: Tightness in the Gluteus Minimus muscle has created a “trigger point” which is referring pain in a pattern mimicking Sciatica.

How does massage help recover from Sciatica?

Treatment for sciatica depends on which of the three types you have. We will start with Piriformis syndrome as it is the type of sciatica most people suffer from. Since the pain itself is being caused by the piriformis muscle putting pressure on the sciatic nerve, it’s necessary for your massage therapist’s primary focus to be on working out any adhesions (knots) in the muscle itself. This will include work focused on the gluteal region (your buttocks) to access the piriformis muscles as well as the area’s surrounding muscles. The rest of the session will be devoted to keeping the tightness from coming back by working out any kinks in the thigh, leg, and lower back.

If you are suffering from Pseudo sciatica your massage therapist will focus on using trigger point therapy to release the adhesions in your gluteus minimus, deep tissue massage to loosen the bulk of the muscle tissue, and myo-fascial massage to help straighten any twist or tilt in your leg and pelvis that may be contributing to the cause of your pseudo sciatica.

If you have sciatica that is being caused by a herniated or bulging disc then much more care is needed during your treatment to avoid potentially aggravating your condition. In this case make sure to see your doctor to get a full check up on your spine, and work with your massage therapist and doctor as a team to make sure you get the best results.

How to prevent sciatica?

Sciatica Client Testimonials>

Will S. 7/08/2013, San Diego, CA

I was suffering from serious back (sciatic) pain for about 6 months. I had been through physical therapy, acupuncture, chiropractics, and other massage therapists with no relief. On a particularly painful day, I was searching for sciatic pain relief and needed something fast. Neille made time for me that day, and through a careful assessment, was able to identify the root cause of my pain and provide lasting relief through various massage techniques.

Neille really knows his stuff. And although he can provide your typically swedish, relaxing massage, I believe his true talent is in his exceptional understanding of the body and relieving pain to chronic issues. Since visiting A New Body Massage, I have been able to return to combat sports, demanding exercise, and able to carry on with my life, pain free. Thank you for your great work

More to come!