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How is sciatica treated?

Have you ever felt pain radiating on one side of your buttocks down the back of the leg? Chances are you are experiencing sciatica. There are many causes for sciatica which include slipped disc, osteoarthritis (bone spurs) or piriformis syndrome which pinches on the sciatic nerve. This nerve starts in the lower back runs through the buttocks and down the back of the thigh to the knee and branches of it continue to the foot. This is a common complaint for many particularly during later stages of pregnancy.

There are many treatments for sciatica such as painkillers, anti-inflammatories, hot/cold packs, gentle exercise/stretching, physiotherapy and massage.

Massage is supportive for releasing tension in the gluteal muscles and hamstring that is often experienced during a sciatica episode. While regular massage can be supportive in reducing the likelihood of sciatica episodes it may not always be what is required as it depends on what the cause of the condition.

In the case of piriformis syndrome being the cause, regular massage is highly effective. There is a small muscle in the hip region under the glute muscles called piriformis. The sciatic nerve runs directly underneath it and in some cases (approx. 20% of the population) The nerve actually runs through this muscle. When this muscle is in disfunction through constant tension this can trigger sciatica. A remedial massage therapist can offer techniques to help release tension in this muscle that is pinching on the nerve as well as encourages the release of endorphins, which block pain and lessen piriformis syndrome symptoms.

Self-Care practices to help relieve sciatic pain

Exercise for effective pain relief

Although lying in bed may seem like a nice way to get rid of your sciatica, doctors advise doing regular exercise to prevent the pain from returning. Exercise provides both short-term and long-term benefits by strengthening your muscles and bones, improving the flexibility of your sciatic nerve, and nourishing your spinal discs.

Stretching it out

Gentle stretches daily incorporated into your routine and help in mor ways than one

Correct your posture

If you work at a desk or sit in the same position for long periods this can contribute to sciatic pain. Be present and correct your posture throughout the day particularly focusing on the sacrum area of the spine. You want to feel it is sitting in a neutral position, not tiled to far back or forward. You may find you have to adjust numerous times a day.

Apply hot and cold packs

Its great to alternate with hot and cold packs. The cold helps to reduce inflammation and the heat support more blood flow which helps with pain relief.

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