Sciatica is an inflammation of the sciatic nerve that causes pain that runs down the back of the leg from the three gluteal muscles to the hamstrings, the calf muscles and even to bottom of the foot. Pain can also be accompanied by numbness in the leg. Most often, sciatica is caused by a disk that has slipped or herniated. Typically, sciatica only affects only side of the body.
There is another condition that mimics sciatic pain: piriformis syndrome (also called pseudo sciatica). Piriformis syndrome causes the same pain pattern as sciatica. The piriformis, a muscle in the gluteal area that sits on top of the sciatic nerve allows us to walk, shift our weight from one foot to the other and maintain balance. When this muscle gets tight and contracts, it pushes onto the sciatic nerve causing pain.
Unfortunately, many doctors will prescribe pain killers which only mask the pain, physical therapy which can decrease the pressure on the nerve, injections of cortisone-like-anti-inflammatory drugs which can have side effects, or surgery which can be difficult to recover from and doesn’t always work.
Neuromuscular massage can fix piriformis syndrome, and the symptoms do not usually come back. Neuromuscular massage can also relieve the pain of sciatica, but may require a combination of therapies to eliminate any underlying structural problems.