Sciatica is a painful and distressing condition to live with. Its debilitating effects can change the way you live your life. Fortunately, acupuncture can be an effective pain relief treatment to help reduce the symptoms of sciatica.
While western medicine has struggled to treat sciatica without invasive surgery or medications with potential side effects, traditional Chinese medicine can alleviate sciatic pain by improving blood circulation, relaxing tort muscles, regulating the nervous system, and triggering pain-reducing neurotransmitters that will soothe nerve pain.
Sciatica is not an illness or a disease, but a bunch of symptoms associated with sciatic nerve root compression. Sciatica pain may include numbness and tingling in the leg or lower back, radiating pain down the leg as far as the foot, or sharp back pain in the lower spine.
Read on to find out all about acupuncture for sciatica and how it can be an effective treatment for alleviating sciatic pain.
How many acupuncture treatments are needed for sciatica?
Acupuncture treatments for sciatica can vary. Because sciatica is not an illness or determinate disease but a group of symptoms associated with compression of the sciatic nerve, they could be caused by a number of different factors.
In cases where sciatica patients complain of chronic pain, repeated acupuncture therapy might be required over several months. However, generally speaking, a three-week treatment is recommended. This will involve two treatments per week for three weeks. After these six sessions have been completed, the acupuncturist will review the patients to see whether the symptoms persist or whether they have been alleviated. In light of these results, the treatment plan will be modified accordingly.
Where do acupuncture needles go for sciatica?
Acupuncture treatment involves the insertion of very fine needles into special nodal points called acupuncture points or meridians. Each meridian is a kind of energetic center that controls particular regions of the body. By manipulating meridians, the acupuncturist can control the flow of energy, blood circulation, and nerve receptivity in the targeted areas.
The key meridian points for the treatment of sciatica are the bladder and gallbladder meridians. This is because they correspond to the energy channels supplied by the sciatic nerve and will accordingly treat low back pain. The needles will typically be placed along the foot, leg, or lower back regions, although specific treatments will vary according to the strategy employed by the therapist. These will enhance blood circulation, increase the flow of Qi (the life energy force treated by Chinese medicine), reduce inflammation and spinal pressure from the nerve. This should reduce pain and alleviate stress in the low back by relaxing the muscles if the sciatica is caused by piriformis syndrome, or soothing the spine if it is a slipped disc that is the culprit.
In addition to the bladder and gallbladder, the acupuncturist may also choose to target Governor Vessel and Kidney meridians. Studies show that these are particularly effective if the sciatica pain is caused by a misaligned spinal disc. On the whole, treating all four meridians is an effective way to alleviate the effects of sciatica, before taking a review of the results and progressing accordingly.
What is better for sciatica? Acupuncture or a Chiropractor?
To determine whether acupuncture or chiropractic is better at treating sciatica, it is first necessary to determine the cause of the pain. Generally speaking, we can say that acupuncture is better at alleviating pain and soothing sciatica caused by muscles. Chiropractic is more effective at treating sciatica that is caused by bone misalignment. Optimum treatment might combine the two, where a chiropractor corrects the underlying structural cause of sciatica, while acupuncture treatment relieves the painful and debilitating symptoms.
Both treatments can also be used in conjunction with other methods such as physiotherapy, therapeutic bodywork, and medications. This allows for a more holistic approach to the patient’s wellbeing and can be very effective at treating sciatica from many different angles.
However, the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating back pain and sciatica lies in the fact that it can relieve painful symptoms organically, without recourse to drugs. By contrast, chiropractors will still require the patient to take pain-reducing NSAID medications such as ibuprofen. This can be dangerous if taken in the long term. In extreme cases, repeated use can lead to inflammation, internal bleeding, cardiovascular disease, thin blood, digestive problems, and stroke.
What is the best treatment for sciatica?
Generally speaking, the best treatment for sciatica is a combination of acupuncture, chiropractic, physiotherapy, and therapeutic bodywork. This kind of holistic approach sees the best results because it can simultaneously treat the patient’s spine, leg, blood circulation, sciatic nerve, and muscle function.
However, on an individual basis, the best treatment will vary according to the specific cause of the patients’ nerve pain. If the primary cause is a herniated disc or spinal stenosis, then a chiropractor will be best at correcting this structural problem. On the other hand, if the pain is caused by leg spasms or piriformis syndrome where spasmatic muscles put pressure on the sciatic nerve, then acupuncture will be better at relaxing these muscles and restoring regular neurotransmission.
The great benefit of acupuncture is that is the only way of approaching sciatica that can reduce pain cleanly without medication and potential side effects, while at the same time fixing the root cause of muscular sciatica. Stimulating the meridians also causes the brain to release endorphins which help you feel calm, relaxed, and happy. This can have a tremendously positive influence on mental health and can help the patient get through any emotional problems linked to their sciatica. Clinical studies have shown that 60% of patients who underwent acupuncture for sciatica reported a marked improvement in their physical capacities and quality of life. Acupuncture offers a cheap and available service that is a wonderful alternative to overhasty surgical intervention or strong painkillers that mask the problem rather than solve it.
If you are interested in pursuing alternative treatments for pain management, Empathic Practice in Pensacola specializes in Acupuncture therapy for individuals suffering from sciatica pain and similar ailments. Our Acupuncturists are certified and can adjust the Acupuncture therapy to accommodate your needs. Learn more about Empathic Practice’s acupuncture service and book a time today with our Acupuncturists.