Sciatic nerves are large. Hold up your first finger (your pointer finger) and look at it. That finger is approximately the thickness of your sciatic nerve. Big, huh? You have a nerve on each side of your body. They start at your spine and pass through your thick gluteal (buttocks) muscles.
The gluteal muscles are the large, powerful muscles in the back of your hip--your buttocks. One of those muscles--a deeper one--is the piriformis. The piriformis muscle can be a cause of the nervy pain in your hip and/or leg. When it is, your pain is often called "pseudo-sciatica." (Pseudo means false.)
If a sciatic nerve is being compressed (pressed on) by the spinal bones (your back bone), it is called "true" sciatica. Nerves don't like pressure regardless of whether it's from bones or muscles. They like to be able to move freely, without pressure.
Muscles are responsible for most pain even though joints and bones often get the blame. And the most common cause of sciatic pain is muscles. Your piriformis muscle can cause pressure on the nerve if the nerve passes deep to it (behind.) A few unfortunate folks have a variation in the way they were built that allows the nerve to pass directly through a "split" piriformis muscle. They tend to have a lot of pain but fortunately it's not a common situation.
When the problem is caused by actual pressure from a spinal bone (or vertebrae), you have to wonder why. Well, I do, at least.
Sometimes it could be a bone chip--a piece of bone which broke or was actually pulled off by tight muscles. In that case, surgery may be the only option to remove the pressure from the nerve. Fortunately, this is not a common problem, either.
Here's how muscles work:
When your muscles get "out of balance"--some stronger or weaker than others--you are setting the stage for pain. When you were a little child, your muscles were "balanced." You were always using ALL of your muscles and that's why they were balanced.
Over time, most of us stop using all of our muscles and begin using only sixty or so on a regular basis instead of the six hundred that we have. That's why when you do work that you don't usually do--like raking perhaps--you say, "I discovered muscles I didn't even know I had." They were always there. You simply had stopped using them.
If you compare your posture with the perfect posture of most little children, you can start to imagine why you have pain. Look at that little head held right over his body. Where is your head?
Look at that little spine with perfect curves in the lower back behind the waist and in the neck. How are your curves in comparison? Too much? Too little?
If you have lost your lower back curve or have over-exaggerated (sway back) your lower back curve, there's a good chance that your muscles are causing pressure on your sciatic nerve at some place along the way. It could be the muscles near your waist or in your gluteal (buttocks) region.
The good news is that bodies heal all the time.
If you can get to the root of your pain and get rid of the CAUSE of it, you'll have a good shot at becoming pain-free. Treating only the symptom is like putting a bandage on a cut or taking an aspirin for a headache. It doesn't change the cause of the cut or the cause of the headache. You want to discover the cause.
Since the cause is most often muscles, if you relax the muscles that are pressing on your sciatic nerve--make them softer and more relaxed--they won't press on the nerve. That means you will have less sciatic pain.
Therapeutic massage or muscle therapy can relax the tight muscles that are pressing on your nerve. Interestingly, pressing on the muscles can cause them to soften. Muscles like to be pressed on even though nerves don't.
Do you know why less back surgery is done now than used to be done?
Because so often the surgery didn't address the CAUSE. It only was chasing a symptom--the pain--and after the patient healed from the surgery, the pain was too often still there.
And now I'd like to invite you to learn more about natural relief for sciatic symptoms. Click here to see exactly how your body works and discover more about muscle imbalances. There's a very good chance that you can get rid of your sciatica naturally.