If you suffer from sciatica, you’re likely familiar with the radiating pain, numbness, or tingling that comes with the condition. It can affect your ability to sleep, work, exercise, and go about your daily life, which impacts your mental health and decreases your quality of life. For some, physical therapy and pain medications help them manage their pain effectively. For others, another treatment path is necessary, which is where acupuncture for sciatica comes in.
What Causes Sciatica?
Sciatica refers to a group of symptoms that affect the largest nerve in your body—your sciatic nerve. This nerve runs through your lower back, hips, backside, and legs, ending right below your knee joint. The most common symptoms include:
- Radiating pain on one side of the body
- Numbness or tingling on one side of the body
- Pain in the lower back, hip, leg, or foot
- Weakness in the leg
Usually, you experience sciatica pain when the sciatic nerve is compressed or inflamed. The condition doesn’t have any one cause, but it could be one (or a combination) of these factors:
- Tight muscles from a condition such as piriformis syndrome
- Bulging or herniated discs
- Spinal stenosis
How Can Acupuncture for Sciatica Help Me?
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) views the body as a whole with different parts acting in sync with one another—no one part of the body is isolated or separate. When you treat any imbalance, you are also encouraging the flow of energy (or qi) throughout the entire body. The goal of acupuncture, which is a major staple in TCM, is to correct the root cause of your pain, not just the symptoms.
TCM sees sciatica as a blood deficiency and as an imbalance in the yin and yang in the liver and kidney, which affect your qi. As a result, your practitioner will insert thin, sterile needles into the trigger points associated with those organs. Not only does acupuncture unblock your body’s flow of energy, it works to help improve blood circulation, relax tight muscles, and release neurotransmitters (such as dopamine) that reduce pain.
While acupuncture is a well-regarded treatment in Eastern medicine, research studies also provide some evidence for its efficacy. One systematic review shows that acupuncture improves symptoms of sciatica better than NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) treatments. NSAIDs include medications such as ibuprofen.
Can I Combine Treatments?
Acupuncture works well alongside other courses of treatment, such as physical therapy or conventional medication. Some patients find that this treatment enhances the effects of their medication, which means they require a lower dosage. Since many medications come with uncomfortable side effects, this is a positive.
Numerous patients also find success in combining their acupuncture treatment with stretching and mobility exercises for their lower back, hips, and legs.
Receive an Acupuncture Consultation Today
If you’ve tried pain relievers and other treatments with no success, then it might be time to go an alternate route. Many patients have found relief with acupuncture for sciatica. For a consultation, you can book an appointment right from the comfort of your own home.