The treatment of Sciatica with Acupuncture

Acupuncture can treats the radiating pain and inflammation of the sciatic nerve, which lead the radiating pain named Sciatica. The treatment reduces the intensity of pain effectively and allows the patient to return to daily routine.

For many people this pain is not transient, and therefore it is one of the most common reasons for turning to Chinese medicine practitioners.

Acupuncture treatment has a lot to offer for this condition.

Sciatica- General

Sciatica is a common condition which manifests as radiating pain and/or pain-like sensations such as discomfort, numbness and burning all of which are felt down the leg. The radiating sensation usually starts from the area of the buttocks and descends to the thighs, most often either to the back or side of the thigh. There are cases where this sensation radiates from the knee joint area to the calves and even down to the ankle joint. The source of the problem is certain pressure exerted on the longest nerve in the body, the sciatic nerve, which enervates the legs. The origin of the sciatic nerve, where it emerges from the spinal cord, is in the region of the fourth and fifth lumbar vertebrae, from where it continues down towards the first, second and third sacral (in the sacrum region) vertebrae. For this reason this condition is commonly appearing together with disc herniation or bulging disc.

Read UK’S National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guideline, which recommend Acupuncture as an effective treatment in managing chronic pain.

Read the BBC news article about NICE guideline

Sciatica – Causes

As mentioned above, pressure on the sciatic nerve leads to this condition. As a result of this pressure, there is pain and/or discomfort, a sensation of burning or numbness in the various areas of the body where the nerve passes. It is important to note that the sensation of pain and other symptoms vary from person to person, depending on the severity of the condition.

What can cause pressure on the sciatic nerve:

  • Structural changes of the spine – the most common here are disc herniation or bulging disc. Others could be arthritis and degenerative changes in the spine, such as spinal canal stenosis and other diseases of the spine.
  • Inflammation of the piriformis muscle – the piriformis muscle is located in the deep part of the buttocks where the sciatic nerve traverses. Sometimes muscle inflammation causes the muscle to thicken and this may put pressure on the nerve.
  • Improper posture – prolonged standing or strenuous physical effort, as well as sleeping in a wrong position.
  • Lifestyle changes, conditions or habits, such as a pregnancy or obesity.

Sciatica – Chinese medicine

Chinese medicine and acupuncture have much to offer in the treatment of sciatica. Acupuncture is very effective in treating the problem and very often during the treatment session itself there is already a change for the better in the physical sensations. At present, even in conventional medicine circles, there is a consensus regarding the effectiveness of Acupuncture for those suffering from this condition.

The duration of the treatment varies, and depends on the severity of the condition as well as the general condition of the patient. In an acute case, the problem can sometimes be eliminated after a few treatments. In chronic conditions treatment could last longer. Very often it is possible to completely eliminate the problem, or reach a state where it can be lived with and quality of life is maintained.

Sciatica – General Tips

It is advisable to treat this condition as early as possible. Failure to treat may aggravate it. Sometimes sciatica disappears on its own, but returns at some point in the future, and with a stronger intensity.

During treatments it is important to rest and not perform strenuous sports activities. Later, following an improvement of the painful or uncomfortable sensations, it is recommended to perform moderate sports activities, and especially important is to do exercises to strengthen the muscles of the back and abdomen.

Attached is a video of exercises that can be done at home. The exercises are recommended to be done only after there is a reduction of the radiating pain sensation down the leg. It is advised also to perform these exercises slowly and carefully. If pain is felt during the exercises, one should stop doing them. As mentioned, sports activities are highly recommended, yet they should be done in moderation and in a gradual manner.

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