Acupuncture for Sciatica
Sciatica is a medical term that used to describe a series of symptoms rather than a single disease. It’s more accurately termed lumbar radiculopathy, and it’s a syndrome that affects the sciatic nerve. It can occur as a result of an injury that causes spinal disc herniation or a number of other nerve degenerating diseases. The root of the sciatic nerve is located between the L5 and S1 lumbar vertebrae, which can cause a wide array of neurological symptoms when pinched or compressed. These symptoms can include some or even all of the following:
- Constant, throbbing pain in just one leg and one side of the lower back
- Burning sensation in the back of the leg and calf
- Tingling sensation in one foot
- Increased pain while sitting down
- A sharp stabbing pain when standing up
- Reduced mobility due to severe tightness or the hip and pelvic muscles
Many of these symptoms go on to cause other problems on their own, like trouble sleeping, tiredness, muscle soreness, anxiety and even depression. While diagnosing sciatica is fairly easy, treating it is no cake walk. Many people often present with different symptoms, so it’s hard to find a drug that treats every single combination of these symptoms. That’s why patients diagnosed with sciatica often just get prescribed over-the-counter painkillers. In some cases, these drugs are enough to reduce most of the pain and people eventually get better on their own. However, in a much larger number of cases, general-purpose analgesics just don’t do the trick, and people are left looking for alternative treatments. The next most common treatment is surgery, which deals directly with the cause instead of just blocking the pain. But in spite of being effective, it’s far from safe and it’s very invasive.
When faced with these choices, people often choose the lesser of two evils and go for the painkillers. But, a demand for alternative treatments and cures has been on the rise recently – I’ve even noted how effective the natural method of Sciatica Relief in the Sciatica SOS ebook was for me. People are starting to opt for a more natural approach to treating this condition, and it often leads them to acupuncture.
Can Acupuncture Help Sciatica?
As you may know, acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that involves inserting thin needles into the body. The needles are inserted in specific parts of the body that correlate to the desired effect of the acupuncture. When inserted into a specific place, the needles activate an endorphin release in the hormones that surround the nerves in another part of the body. So, based on that principle, can acupuncture be used to treat sciatica nerve pain? Well, recent research and studies all say it can. If you’re interested in knowing more about acupuncture and sciatica-related studies, I suggest checking out the British Acupuncture Council website. You can find extensive studies done on the subject there, which can help you get a better understanding of how exactly acupuncture affects this condition.
If done by a certified and experienced professional in a clean environment, acupuncture has no side-effects or setbacks. It can never make any condition it treats get worse, and it often has more benefits for your overall health than just relieving pain.
Acupuncture used for treating sciatica nerve pain can:
- Lead to the release of endorphins which reduce the sensation of pain, by stimulating nerves located in mirrored muscles and tissues. This can have the same effect as taking an over-the-counter analgesic, but without the harmful side-effects the drugs can have.
- Release immunomodulators which reduce inflammation. An immunomodulator is any substance that regulates the immune system. It can be introduced externally, such as immunosuppressant drugs or vaccines, or it can occur in the body naturally when the immune system starts working. Targeting specific points on the body with acupuncture gets your immune system going, which then recognizes the inflammation in your sciatic nerve and reduces it.
- Improve joint mobility. An experienced acupuncturist will be able to pinpoint exactly where to place the needles to stimulate microcirculation in your muscles and joints. This increased circulation reduces any swelling, no matter how small it might be, thus successfully increasing the mobility of that area. This is especially useful treating sprained spinal discs, as they’re often what compresses the sciatic nerve and cause pain.
- Increase the level of serotonin in the body. Carefully placed acupuncture needles increase the production of this valuable hormone in the body. Serotonin is produced with noradrenaline, and these two hormones together speed up nerve repair. Spinal disc herniation often leaves small tears in the nerve, so this really speeds up nerve healing and reduces pain along the way.
- Help reduce overall pain. Acupuncture uses needles to stimulate smaller nerves which are used as a signalling system for neurological pain. By doing that, the signalling system is rebooted and it stops sending pain signals to your brain. This is a very short-term, instant relief, but its effects can be prolonged by repeated visitations to your acupuncturist.
- Increase circulation in your body. One of the reasons acupuncture is the number one choice for treating pain is its With just a few pricks of the needle, your blood circulation increases throughout your body. Muscle stiffness and sprains are the number one cause of sciatica and increasing the blood flow to the lumbar area makes it more mobile and significantly less painful.
Always consult with your doctor before starting a treatment for any condition you might suffer from, especially sciatica. Although the benefits acupuncture has for treating sciatica nerve pain, it might not be the best or only option for you. Maybe your sciatica can be cured after a couple of weeks on painkillers, or just one trip to the OR. But rest assured acupuncture is always a good idea as a follow-up therapy for sciatica nerve pain, and it won’t have any side-effects or interfere with your medication. But who knows, there’s still a high possibility acupuncture might be the only treatment you need. If that’s the case then you’re quite the lucky one – acupuncture is the safest and most natural way of treating sciatica and its accompanying nerve pain.