Acupuncture treats sciatica pain
Sciatica is one of the top 5 pain conditions I treat with acupuncture. Researchers estimate up to 43% of people will have sciatica in their lifetime. Nearly half of all of us! That’s a lot of people.
Interestingly, the traveling pain of sciatica closely follows two of the acupuncture meridians in the leg. These two acupuncture meridians have strong analgesic points in the foot that can be used to stop pain further up the leg.
What are the causes and symptoms of sciatica?
Sciatica is a kind of leg pain that mirrors the path of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve starts in your spine and travels through your buttock, hip and down the leg. Sciatica is typically one-sided, but some people experience sciatica pain on both sides or alternating sides. Sciatic occurs when the sciatic nerve is compressed either by a bulging (herniated) disc in the spine, a bone spur on the spine that presses on the nerve or occasionally a muscle spasm that traps the nerve as it moves into the leg. This pressure on the sciatic nerve causes sciatica pain sensations, tingling and even numbness. Pain can range from a dull ache to sharp, electric and travelling sensations.
How is sciatica treated by my doctor?
Your doctor’s first line of treatment is going to be to prescribe rest and possibly physical therapy. Anti-inflammatory drugs (acetaminophen, NSAIDs), muscle relaxants, narcotics and even anti-seizure medications may be prescribed. In severe cases, steroid injections or surgery may be recommended.
How does an acupuncturist evaluate and treat sciatica pain?
As I mentioned before, the key to evaluating and giving an effective sciatica treatment if to determine which acupuncture meridians are affected, that is to say which meridian travels through the painful areas. After that is determined, I also do a full review of the patient’s overall health. I combine all of this information to create what acupuncturists call a pattern diagnosis. The pattern describes a disharmony in the body, and dictates a sciatica treatment plan.
When I treat people for sciatica pain, I generally recommend once or twice weekly treatments for 4 to 6 weeks before re-evaluating the sciatica pain. After pain relief is achieved, a maintenance course of acupuncture is beneficial to consolidate the treatment.
In addition to acupuncture, I use Tuina medical massage, Guasha, cupping and occasionally use herbal medicine to treat sciatica pain.