Acupuncture for Sciatica
When the sciatic nerve becomes impinged and inflamed, pain can be mild to severe in the buttock, hip and leg. The sciatic nerve is a large nerve that branches from the low back, through the sacrum, through the muscles of the buttocks down to the foot. Radiating pain, numbness and weakness can all result from sciatica, often times inhibiting mobility. Sciatic pain is often one sided, may be worse with sitting, and typically described as dull, throbbing, burning or tingling. Sharp pain can make walking difficult and sitting can often exacerbate the problem because it further compresses the nerve in the buttocks. Acupuncture for sciatica is one of the best treatments that can find and treat this condition from roots.
Sciatica is sometimes a symptom of a more serious problem such as a herniated disc, degenerative disc disease, or spinal stenosis. Regardless of the cause, acupuncture for sciatica is an effective therapy to alleviate inflammation, relax muscle tension and stop sciatic pain.
Sciatica can develop gradually or onset may be sudden. Standard, conventional therapy often includes anti-inflammatory medications and muscle relaxers, but acupuncture is a better alternative as recent studies have show that medications cannot fix the underlying problem. In fact, the latest recommendations from the Annals of Internal Medicine recommends doctors refer patients for acupuncture before recommending pain killers.
In TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) sciatica develops from a weakness in Kidney energy. The Kidneys are located in the lower back on either side of the spinal column. They are said to open at the ears and the “two yin” (anus and genitals) and its condition are reflected in the hair of the head. The functions of the Kidneys are different in Chinese medical theory than they are in Western medicine. In TCM the Kidneys correspond to urinary metabolism, reproduction, and storing the Essence or Jing (essential qi). The Kidneys also govern the bones and produce the marrow.
These differentiations are important because an acupuncturist is not only using the needles to eliminate pain, but also to strengthen the qi of the Kidneys, preventing future episodes.
In TCM, symptoms do not exist in a vacuum…there are broader connections and implications to the overall health and integrity of the entire person when any one system is compromised.
Many cases of sciatica are caused by systemic inflammation. Eating a diet high in processed foods, high in Omega 6 fatty acids from sources like industrial seed oils or CAFO meat (meat from confined animal farming operations), and refined sugars creates an internal environment that becomes systemically inflamed. The health of the gut is often a contributing factor to general aches and pains, such as sciatica.
As part of the treatment strategy, nutritional recommendations may be made to assist the healing process. Supplements can also be beneficial in down-regulating inflammation.
Most cases of sciatica respond within minutes of inserting acupuncture needles. Many patients experience a relief of symptoms before all of the needles have been inserted. Depending upon the severity of the underlying cause of sciatica, the number of treatments needed can vary widely.
For those patients who have tightening of the muscles of the low back and buttocks, fewer treatments will be necessary than conditions like herniated discs or spondylolisthesis.
As a general rule, chronic conditions require more acupuncture treatments than acute conditions. Patients who do not experience any sciatic pain alleviation within the first few acupuncture treatments may not ever respond and it is better to discover this sooner rather than later. It is for this reason that two or three treatments are recommended within the first week to ten days.
Kristin’s preferred method of acupuncture for sciatica treatment for sciatica is called Balance Method. This style of treatment has helped hundreds of patients get relief from sciatic pain.
Acupuncture for sciatica Balance Method has many benefits including:
- the patient does not need to disrobe or expose the lower body, hip, buttock or legs
- pain relief is instantaneous
- treatment can be performed in sitting, lying or side lying positions, whatever is more comfortable for the patient.
Another benefit of acupuncture for sciatica treatment for sciatic pain is that imaging is not necessary for treatment. While MRI’s and X-Rays are useful for identifying underlying causes of sciatica, the images are not necessary for an acupuncture treatment plan to be effective.
Kristin treats most cases of sciatica using points on the hand contralateral (opposite) to the side of the pain. In is little as three points sciatica can be alleviated.
Once the needles have been inserted, the patient is advised to lie (or sit) quietly through out the treatment. The needles will remain in place once inserted for a length of time between 20-35 minutes, depending upon the case. If you have been suffering with sciatic pain and want a simple, proven solution, call to schedule your appointment with Kristin today!