One of the most popular new devices in the medical world is the massage gun. It can be good for so many situations, including sore muscles, loosening tense muscles, recovery from muscle pain, warming up the muscle before some task—or more serious and bigger problems.
Now talking about bigger problems, let’s answer the question: are massage guns good for sciatica? The short answer is, yes, it is helpful for sciatica pain relief if you can use the massage gun correctly.
But before that, let’s get to know a little more about sciatica nerve pain and why it happens. Then we dive right into how to use one property.
1. What Is Sciatica?
Sciatica is the sciatic nerve pain that goes down each leg, starting from the lower back and passing through the buttocks and the hips. It can either be a small inflammation in the nerve, which is more common, or a more severe injury.
1.1 What Is the Sciatic Nerve?
The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the human body. The nerve system is comprised of five nerve roots. Three of them originate from the upper sacral spine, and two of them exit from the lumbar spine.
All of these nerve roots combine together to form the left and the right sciatic nerve. These run down on the two sides of the spinal cord and branch out to the leg, toes, and so on. The sciatic nerve plays a huge role in the nervous system.
Sciatica nerve pain is a very common problem and is seen among a lot of adults. So, when you see any symptoms in you, do not be too worried. So, without further ado, let’s get into the symptoms of sciatica.
1.2 Symptoms of Sciatica
There are a number of symptoms indicating sciatica. However, a lot of the time muscle spasms are confused for sciatica due to misdiagnosis, and the wrong treatment is provided. That is why it is necessary that you are aware of the symptoms.
Some of the most common symptoms of sciatica pain are leg pain, numbness and tingling in the feet, and pain running through the lower back and the buttocks.
The pain usually originates from the lumbar spine to the hamstrings and calves through the buttocks. Discomfort can be felt in any spot along the path of the nerve. And the intensity of the pain also varies from person to person, or the intensity of the damage.
It can also cause tight muscles and excessive muscle tension at the back of the thighs and the calves in some cases.
Some people think the pain is mild, while there have been reports of sciatica causing excruciating pain — similar to getting stabbed or electricity passing through the legs. If you feel any pain similar to this, you should get diagnosed.
Now, if you think you have sciatica pain, a good solution for you is massage guns. By using it properly, you can relieve sciatica pain to a huge extent if you can perform self-massage appropriately.
2. Why Does Sciatica Happen?
There are a lot of reasons why you might be susceptible to sciatica. Although all of them cannot be covered here, neither are fully known — we can cover the most common reasons why it happens among most people.
2.1 Being Inactive
Not doing any workout and keeping your muscles unworked for a long time can put you at a greater risk of sciatica. This can also lead to a weak abdomen and lower back— which are some of the most common reasons for sciatic nerve pain.
On top of that, inactivity leads to problems like obesity and being overweight — which in turn increases the amount of strain on your lower back and core muscles, making you more vulnerable to problems like sciatic issues.
2.2 Having Other Underlying Issues
Other issues like osteoarthritis can put your spine in a tweaked position and increase the risk of you getting sciatica. Diabetes can also play some role in damaging the nerve, increasing the possibility of sciatica.
Sometimes the stiffening of the piriformis muscle can cause symptoms of sciatica. It is called the piriformis syndrome. It happens when the sciatic nerve gets captivated in the buttocks surrounding the piriformis muscle.
2.3 Getting Old
Just getting old can put your sciatic nerves in a more vulnerable position of getting inflamed, injured, and having issues. There is nothing to worry about if you get the proper diagnosis and treatment.
3. How Does the Massage Gun Work for Sciatica?
If you have a mild case of sciatica, the first remedy that you should be considering is a massage gun. It can greatly help you alleviate sciatic pain. A massage gun also allows you to take care of yourself for the time being and not be dependent on a massage therapist.
Use the massage heads of the massage gun on the spot where you are feeling the pain. This enables the gun to do a deep tissue massage which allows the sciatic nerve to be a little more relaxed by helping it to increase blood flow.
Sciatica can happen if there is inflammation in the sciatic nerves due to some injury. Again, these can cause problems, including severe pain and muscle tension, and stiffness. You can use a massage gun to get rid of all these problems for the time being.
3.1 To Reduce the Inflammation
Deep tissue massage, by increasing blood flow, helps in relieving excessive pressure on the sciatic nerve system. On top of that, it can also help to reduce inflammation if used properly in the right spots — decreasing the pain for some time.
3.2 To Relax Tight Muscles
Due to sciatica, the most common muscle group getting stiff and tensed are the back and the leg areas behind the thighs. These can cause severe pain and discomfort in anyone who is suffering from it.
Since massage therapy helps to improve blood flow to the area, that also helps to relax tense muscles and lessen the pain for some time. This can also ease up any form of muscle soreness that happens due to sciatica.
4. How to Property Use a Massage Gun for Sciatic Pain Relief
A massage gun is great to increase blood circulation and reduce the suffering caused by sciatic nerve pain. But you have to use it in the proper way to get the best results. In fact, using it in the wrong way can do more damage than good.
You should gently use the massage heads of the gun on the muscle tissue you feel the pain on. It is only good as long as you do it in a moderate way and do not do it too much. Overdoing it might cause more pain and numbness in the area. A massage gun with various speed and stall force settings is therefore very important to have.
Also, make sure that you are holding the gun against your skin in a very light and delicate manner. Putting too much pressure on a sore area with inflammation can never lead to a good ending. Use it around the area where the pain is persistent lightly.
Lastly, do not use the massage gun directly on the nerve roots since it might excite the nerves in that area, causing discomfort — which is totally counterproductive. Instead, massage around the muscle and reduce the tension on your muscle indirectly.
5. Percussive Therapy to Get Rid of Sciatica
There is another method of using the massage gun in order to get rid of sciatica, and it is called percussive therapy. Even though it is not highly researched, people who have done it have claimed to have benefitted from the therapy.
You can use a percussion massage gun to do percussive therapy on yourself or have someone do it on you. It basically imitates the technique known as myofascial release—a soft tissue therapy used in physical therapy.
This method helps in the improvement of blood flow leading to a lesser tense muscle and depreciation of inflammation. And all of it helps in the relief of sciatica nerve pain.
Just so you know, there are many more benefits of using a percussion massage gun besides just getting rid of sciatica pain.
6. Is a Massage Gun Enough for Sciatica?
Massage guns are pretty good for treating sciatica if it is a mild case and if you think that you can manage it. But if you have a more serious case of sciatica, a massage gun would simply not be enough.
For example, you might have grown any serious structural problems due to sciatica, like a herniated disc or slipped disc. Then, it is not recommended to be dependent on the massage gun anymore since it can do little to no help in that case. For that, it is a must for you to get treated by a doctor.
For the most serious cases, doctors explore solutions like epidural steroid injections and potential trigger point injections. There are other techniques like biofeedback and spinal cord stimulation, which have also shown to be useful for sciatica.
But if the case is not that severe, but you still think the massage gun is not cutting it for you and you need more help, you can take professional help by going to massage therapy. They would know how to work their way around the muscle and get you rid of the pain.