Acupuncture for sciatica
What is sciatica?
Sciatica describes symptoms of pain that radiates down following the path of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve begins in the lower back, goes down through the hip, buttock and then down the leg. Generally, pain and discomfort are felt on the back of the leg but sometimes other branches of the sciatic nerve can be affected. In that case, pain and discomfort can also be on the side of the leg or radiating towards the groin area.
Here are the typical symptoms of sciatica:
- One sided, constant pain in the buttocks
- Pain worse when sitting
- Burning or tingling down the leg
- Shooting pain down the leg (rear or side)
What causes sciatica?
Sciatica is not a medical condition but a symptom of another medical condition such as lumbar herniated disc, degenerative disc, spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis or piriformis syndrome. When the sciatic nerve is compressed, it becomes inflamed and the typical symptoms of pain and numbness appear. In the case of piriformis syndrome, the muscle piriformis which is in the buttocks, can compress and irritates the sciatic nerve. The pain starts from the buttocks without affecting the lower back.
What can acupuncture do?
There is evidence from research that acupuncture can provide pain relief for sciatica and that it is at least as good than conventional medicine treatments in relieving back pain.
Here are some of the benefits from acupuncture:
- Acupuncture stimulates local nerves on the leg stimulating the release of endorphins and alleviating peripheral pain.
- It reduces inflammation of the sciatic nerve
- It increases local micro-circulation improving joint mobility and benefiting the affected area
- It affects the sciatic nerve blood flow
- It reduces neuropathic pain
- It improves the conductivity of the sciatic nerve and promote its regeneration
Sciatica is condition frequently seen in the clinic and in my experience it responds very well to acupuncture.