Sciatic nerve pain affects a large percentage of the population. Depending on age, 10% to 40% are affected.1 Since the pain is very unpleasant, people want to get rid of it quickly. In this article, I would like to tell you how this can be done and whether a massage gun can help.
The answer to this question is clearly yes: massage guns can help reduce sciatic nerve pain.
Most importantly, massagers help reduce the symptoms of sciatica. Specifically, massage can relieve pain by relaxing the muscle and improving blood flow. In some cases, regular use of a massage gun can even prevent sciatica, such as when it is caused by hardened fascia or trigger points.
Using a massage gun for sciatica isn’t too hard either: use the ball attachment and massage the side where you feel the pain. Start with a low intensity. Move the massage along the lower back, thighs and calves. The duration of the massage should not exceed 2 to 3 minutes, but it can be done several times a day.
You have now learned in short form that massage guns may very well help with sciatica. Now I would like to go into more detail about the background. I will also explain how sciatic nerve pain is treated, how you can use a massage gun for this purpose, and which massage guns I would specifically recommend.
Background of Sciatica Nerve Pain
Sciatica is perceived as stabbing, burning, or shooting pain that is felt in the buttocks, back of the legs, feet, and also toes. Sciatica can also feel tickling or numb.2 The reason for this is that the sciatic nerve is irritated or compressed. This nerve starts in the lower back and runs down to the foot.
Treatment of Sciatica
If you notice the symptoms of sciatic nerve pain, you should contact your doctor. He or she will help you to treat the pain.
The treatment of sciatica is primarily aimed at relieving the pain. It also aims to reduce the pressure on the nerve. The following treatment options are used for this purpose:
- Physiotherapy under the supervision of a trained therapist.
- The use of ice packs to reduce pain and swelling. These are placed on the affected area several times a day for 20 minutes at a time. after a few days, they are replaced with hot packs.
- Stretching the affected muscles gently. Get help from a professional instructor for this.
- Over-the-counter medicines for pain, swelling, and inflammation.
- Careful massage to loosen muscles and improve blood circulation. Best done by an experienced masseur.
- Keep moving as normally as possible. If you remain passive or stop moving, the pain may worsen.3
However, sciatica is not always just pain that is easy to treat. You should call 911 (US) / 999 (UK) or go to the emergency room in the following cases:
- sciatica on both sides at the same time
- feel weakness or numbness in both legs, which is getting worse
- have numbness in the genital area or around your anus
- cannot control when to pee or cannot start peeing
- cannot control when to poo or cannot notice when you have to poo4
The above symptoms could indicate serious back problems and should be treated in a hospital as soon as possible.
Will a Massage help with Sciatica?
As mentioned above, massages can be used to treat sciatica. Massage is intended to loosen muscles and improve blood circulation. This, in turn, should relieve the pain. These are the physical benefits of massage.
On the other hand, massage provides psychological benefits. It provides relaxation and calms the nervous system. Likewise, massage can release endorphins, which provide a better mood.
Nevertheless, massage only has a positive effect on the symptoms of sciatica. It cannot treat the underlying cause. For that, you should contact a doctor. He will suggest a suitable treatment to get rid of sciatica in the long run.
And what is about Massage Guns?
A massage gun can also be used to create the aforementioned benefits. Some doctors even recommend the use of a massage gun in addition to other treatment measures. The great advantage of massagers here is that they can be used anywhere and at any time. There is no need to go to a massage studio. It is not even necessary to have a second person so that you can effortlessly reach your own back with a massage gun.
By running the massage gun over the affected area several times a day, you can achieve the following benefits:
- Frequent severe muscle soreness in the lower back can lead to sciatic nerve pain. By using the massage gun after stressing the back (e.g., after a heavy back workout), the subsequent muscle soreness can be greatly reduced, as studies have shown.5
- Hardened muscles and/or trigger points can not only press on nerves and trigger sciatica. They can also lead to pain in the back and other parts of the body. You can loosen them with a massage gun (see here: How can I loosen Trigger Points with a Massage Gun?).
- Swollen fascia (the skin around the muscle) can also lead to pain. By using the massage gun specifically, you can reduce the swelling and thus lessen sciatic nerve pain.
How to use a Massage Gun on Sciatic Nerve Pain
Massaging sciatica nerve pain with a massage gun is not too difficult. To do this, proceed as follows:
- Choose an appropriate attachment. I myself would use a small to medium ball or flat head attachment. If available, you can also use a warming or cooling attachment to treat the swelling additionally.
- Massage the side where you feel the pain.
- Start with low intensity and increase only if the massage does not worsen the pain or make you feel uncomfortable.
- Move the massage gun over the lower back, thigh, and calf in smooth motions, using as little pressure as possible. Spare bones in the process. The force of the massage should not come from your arms but from the massage gun alone.
- Perform the massage for a maximum of 2 to 3 minutes at a time, but several times a day.
In the following YouTube video from Rehab and Revive, the use of a massage gun on sciatica is explained to you visually:
Which Massage Gun should I use on Sciatica?
when choosing a suitable massage gun for Sciatica, you should pay attention to the following two features in particular:
- The massage gun should have an amplitude of at least 10 mm to reach the deep tissue.
- The stall force should be at least 35 lbs. to massage the muscles with enough force.
I myself have massaged more than 30 massage guns by now. Of these, the following two are my favorites for use on sciatica nerve pain:
Here you can read more about the massage guns and my experience with them: Best Massage Gun for Sciatica Nerve Pain. You can also find more massagers that are very suitable for Sciatica at this link.
Conclusion – Will a Massage Gun help with Sciatica?
The treatment of sciatica aims to relieve the pain and relieve the sciatic nerve. In addition to other measures, massages can also help here. A massage gun allows you to treat the pain yourself. How this works and which massager is best suited for this, I have told you in the article. I hope that I could help you with this!