Acupuncture for sciatica
Sciatica is a medical condition with pain along the sciatic nerve that radiates through the lower back, buttock and outer leg causing leg pain and numbness or weakness. It is caused by is a narrowing of the spaces within your spine (spinal stenosis) that pinch the sciatic nerve along the spinal cord and can be extremely painful. Usually pressure on the sciatic nerve causes sciatica pain.
Sciatic pain starts from the lower back (L4) through the tailbone (S1), buttock (piriformis syndrome) and down the outside of the leg to the foot. Symptoms of sciatica include tingling numbness, chronic pain and a disc herniation.
Treatment of sciatica
Conventional treatment includes advice to stay active and continue daily activities; exercise therapy; painkillers such as paracetamol, NSAIDs, an opioid; muscle relaxants; corticosteroid spinal injections to the nerve root; and referral for consideration of surgery. However, there is a lack of strong evidence of effectiveness for most of these interventions.
Strong pain relievers such as Tramadoil are now more commonly used for chronic sciatica. Unfortunately, these have side effects such as opiate addiction. Many patients don't like taking them for long term. Alternative therapies such as acupuncture can treat sciatic pain without side effects of addiction.
Other forms of treatment include spinal manipulation and physical therapy of the piriformis muscles from physical therapists.
Treatment for sciatica
The sciatic pathway is the same as the gallbladder meridian channel in acupuncture. Stimulating acupuncture points along this channel in patients with sciatica with alternative medicine such as electro acupuncture helps to relieve sciatica, is anti-inflammatory and restores blood flow.
Watch my animated video below, which explains how the stimulation of points on the body can be an effective form of sciatica treatment.
Recent research has shown acupuncture treatment to be more effective at treating sciatica than traditional painkillers and can reduce pain. It has also been shown to prevent bone loss and gives lone term relief.
Choose an acupuncturist who is a member of the British Acupuncture Council (BAC), such as myself who spent years in China. BAcC members practice different style of acupuncture, so remember to select someone who practices traditional acupuncture.
If you have sciatica, I would recommend wearing thermals when the temperature is below 10 degrees, sitting on a hot water bottle (no cold packs), avoid driving a manual car, drinking coffee and sitting down for long periods of time.