The Sciatic Nerve is quite large, in fact, it is the largest and longest peripheral nerve found in the body, and is as thick as a finger where it leaves in the lower spine. It extends from your lower back through your hip and under your buttock, and continues down your leg where it splits into two at the knee.
Each leg has its own Sciatic Nerve.
‘Sciatica’ simply means the Sciatic Nerve is is inflamed. The Sciatic Nerve provides information about leg movements, and transmits that information about sensations up to the brain.
Like most other nerves, the Sciatic Nerve performs two important roles. It sends messages to the muscles of the leg from the brain, and it collects sensory information from the legs and sends it back to the brain.
Conditions such as Sciatica that affect the nerve will change these normal functions. This usually appears as either weakness of these leg muscles… pain in the legs and thighs… or both.
Some with Sciatica may notice a worsening of their symptoms with actions such as squatting or coughing. These actions can increase pressure around the nerve and escalate the symptoms of Sciatica.
The pain from Sciatica is felt along the Sciatic Nerve and can be felt deep in the buttock, with pain that travels down the back of the leg, sometimes as far as the foot. There may also be tingling, ‘pins and needles’, or loss of feeling, and sometimes, weakness in the leg.
Usually, Sciatica effects one leg at a time. Occasionally, a feeling like an electric shock may be occur. The pain can range from a mild ache to severe pain.
Sciatica pain is often felt when you sneeze, cough, or when you’re sitting, and lower back pain may be present as well.
What is the cause of the pain?
A Tight Piriformis is the most common cause.
Sciatica and Piriformis Syndrome are one and the same condition. The medical community is starting to call the condition by the muscle (Piriformis) that is involved instead of calling it by the name of the associated nerve. So now you have a choice… a syndrome or a condition.
The Piriformis is a muscle that lies deep underneath the Gluteal muscles of the buttocks. The function of the Piriformis muscle is to externally rotate and stabilise the hip. The Sciatic Nerve passes directly underneath the Piriformis and with some people, it actually passes through it.
Sciatica (aka Piriformis Syndrome) occurs when the Piriformis muscle becomes tight, goes into spasm, or swells. When this happens it compresses the Sciatic Nerve.
Pregnancy can be a cause of pressure on the Sciatic Nerve.
Stretching is a good start, and Deep tissue massage is also hard to beat in treating Sciatica (aka Piriformis Syndrome). The best technique is without a doubt, a darn good active release. It’s a very precise technique that’s used to remove any adhesions that might have formed within the Piriformis or between it and the Sciatic Nerve. A deep tissue massage can help if the masseur is familiar with the anatomy of the Deep Gluteal Muscles.
If you’re experiencing the pain we’ve talked about in this article, call and make an appointment today. A Remedial Massage could be all you need to relieve the condition.