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Can massage make sciatica worse?

by | Jun 1, 2023 | Massage Q&A

In general, massage can be helpful in relieving the symptoms of sciatica, which is typically caused by compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve. 

However, there are certain situations where massage may not be suitable and could potentially make sciatica worse. Here are some considerations:

Underlying Causes: Sciatica can have various underlying causes, such as a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, or muscle imbalances. It’s important to identify the specific cause of your sciatica before receiving a massage. In some cases, massage may not be appropriate or may need to be modified to address the underlying condition.

Severity of Symptoms: The severity of your sciatica symptoms should be taken into account. If your pain is severe, accompanied by muscle weakness or loss of bladder or bowel control, it is crucial to seek medical attention before considering massage. Massage therapy may not be suitable or effective for severe cases that require more specialised medical interventions.

Expertise of the Massage Therapist: Choosing a skilled and experienced massage therapist who has knowledge of working with sciatica and related conditions is important. They should be familiar with the proper techniques, precautions, and contraindications for sciatica. Communicate your symptoms and concerns with the therapist to ensure they can adjust the treatment accordingly.

Pressure and Technique: The pressure and techniques used during a massage session can affect the outcome. If the pressure is too intense or applied directly on the affected area, it may exacerbate pain or cause discomfort. A knowledgeable massage therapist will use appropriate techniques and adjust the pressure based on your comfort level and the severity of your sciatica.

Personal Sensitivity: Each individual’s response to massage may vary. Some people may find massage beneficial in relieving sciatica symptoms, while others may experience temporary discomfort or an increase in pain. It’s important to communicate with your massage therapist throughout the session and provide feedback on your pain levels and comfort.

If you have concerns about whether massage is appropriate for your sciatica or if you have any other underlying health conditions, it’s advisable to consult with your healthcare provider or a qualified massage therapist. They can assess your specific situation and provide personalised recommendations based on your needs.

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