Acupuncture for Sciatica TreatmentSciatica can be really painful. So much so that when you are experiencing the deep electrical shocks and muscle soreness it sends through your body all you want to do is lie down and never get up.

The sciatic nerve is as thick as an extension cord. It runs from the lower spine to the pelvis then under, over or through a muscle called the piriformis and down the back of the leg where it branches out over the calf.

The trail of the sciatic nerve is a strong electrical current that motors and sensitizes the muscles of the lower leg including the back of the knee, calf, ankle and bottom of the foot. It is a mixed-function nerve working with motor and sensory neurons enabling simultaneous muscular movement.

When the sciatic nerve becomes impinged, inflamed or damaged a laundry list of painful ailments can arise including:

  • Lower back pain
  • Groin pain
  • Pain in the glutes
  • Pain down the back of the leg
  • Difficulty walking
  • Balance challenges
  • Numbness
  • Bladder or bowel incontinence

Conventional medicine attempts to calm the sciatic nerve by using muscle relaxants, pain medication, or an epidural steroid injection directly into the spine. Traditional medicine, particularly acupuncture, may be a good start for treating sciatica before giving in to medicine with potential side effects and/or a surgical procedure.

The Concept

Acupuncture has been in existence for thousands of years. It has been regularly used in Asia and Europe alongside modern medicine as a normal alternative choice for some time but it wasn’t until the 1970’s that it came to America. Now it has been recognized by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as well as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for treatment of back pain and sciatica.

The concept is to use the painless insertion of hair-thin needles into specific pathways called meridians. These points are used to increase or decrease energy, also known as qi (chee), that may be stuck, sluggish, over-firing or non-existent in places it should be thriving. By doing this the intention is to bring the body back to its optimal health (homeostasis), reducing or eliminating pain, weakness or any other number of symptoms.

Acupuncture points for sciatica may vary as they could be on or around the affected area as well as in other areas that may seem to have nothing to do with sciatica such as the outer ears or hands.

The Mechanism – Under the Microscope

Acupuncture for sciatica treatment has been studied by various medical researchers attempting to determine its validity.

BMJ Open a renowned general medical journal formerly known as the British Medical Journal comments on acupuncture for pain,

“The mechanism of acupuncture analgesia is gradually becoming known. [Studies] found that acupuncture can promote release of neurotransmitter[s] such as 5-hydroxytryptamine and in addition it generates neuropeptide through electrical stimulation of different frequencies that has significantly effect[ed] pain reduction.”

French researchers conducted a 1983 study titled, ‘Acupuncture and sciatica in the acute phase. Double blind study of 30 cases’. The Abstract is described here on the PubMed-NIH posting,

“Patients were randomly assigned to one of two groups: 15 were treated on electrically detected points and 15 on “placebo” points. In the “placebo” group, no significant improvement was recorded. Conversely, in the treated group [acupuncture], study of objective criteria showed improvement of the Lasegue sign [a clinical point of reference]. Among subjective symptoms, positive responses were recorded in the duration of improvement, degree of improvement in decubitus [lying down] and after ten minutes standing, and use of analgesics. Compared to the “placebo” group, these changes are statistically significant.”

The Right Spots

As mentioned, acupuncture for sciatica treatment requires the needling of specific points along related meridians throughout the body, not just at the pain location. The tricky part is for the acupuncturist to be able to assess these points correctly to treat the right spots for optimal relief. If the acupuncturist is also a naturopathic doctor trained in the intricacies of Classical Chinese Medicine (CCM) the results could be substantially more effective.

Some determinations and point locations for sciatica treatment may include:

Wind-Cold-Damp – This is when there is intense pain with cold temperature in the lumbar (lower back) region as well as the lower leg. Points may include: DU14 at the top portion of the spine between the upper scapula and SP9 inside the lower leg just below the knee.

Kidney Jing Deficiency – Jing, located in the kidney, is a major life source. When this is deficient it can manifest as pain in the knees and loins. UB23 is one of the best points to strengthen the kidneys. It is located at the beginning of the lower (lumbar) spine. K3 and K4 are kidney points also used to tonify the kidney located on the upper inside ankles.

Obstructed Collateral Blood Stasis – Severe prickling pain in the lumbar and legs could develop when circulation is blocked and the blood is sitting stagnant. UB17 invigorates the blood into proper movement. This point is located at about the middle spine. Ashi points which are areas of unspecified locations where there is tenderness can also be used.

Acupuncture for sciatica treatment could be your best choice before attempting conventional medicine. The protocol is usually six weeks, once or preferably two times per week. Improvement for some can sometimes be felt almost immediately. At Integrative Med Solutions, we will design an acupuncture and naturopathic treatment program that works for you. In many cases, insurance covers portions of the acupuncture treatment. Allow us to support you to achieve optimal health.  To make an appointment or find out more about how acupuncture and naturopathic medicine can benefit you, please call our office at 914.337.2980 or CLICK HERE to schedule an online appointment.

*Please CLICK HERE to see a current list of Insurance Companies that commonly carry acupuncture benefits for its members. Please call 914.337.2980 or securely email to verify your specific benefits. If you are emailing, please include your full name, date of birth and insurance identification card number.

Leave a Reply