Sciatica is pain in the lower back or hip that radiates down into the back of a leg, often caused by a herniated vertebral disc pressing on the sciatic nerve. When the sciatic nerve is pinched, inflamed, or damaged, pain may radiate along the length of the sciatic nerve to the foot.
Allopathic medicine most often treats sciatica with physical therapy and pain medication or NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). These drugs provide short-term pain relief but also decrease blood circulation to the muscles and joints. NSAIDs also have potential side effects such as liver damage and gastric irritation. Avoiding the side effects of various pain medications is one reason to consider acupuncture.
Acupuncture causes the body to produce natural steroids and promotes the production of natural endorphins. Steroids decrease inflammation, while endorphins produced by the body reduce pain. By alleviating pain, acupuncture decreases use of pain medications and reduces recovery time. Acupuncture can maintain treatment outcomes for up to six months or longer without the negative side effects that occur with traditional treatment regimens.
Acupuncture physicians treat sciatica with acupuncture at both local pain sites and distal points away from the pain area to reduce pain symptoms and treat the condition. Through careful diagnosis and examination, acupuncture is individualized to the exact qi, or energy imbalance that the patient has. Your acupuncture physician may recommend exercises to strengthen the back and abdominal muscles, which are helpful when the sciatic pain is being treated by acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine. Changes in diet and lifestyle may be necessary to correct chronic conditions.
Generally its advisable to have frequent acupuncture treatment initially and decrease sessions as the pain diminishes. Acute pain may resolve in a few sessions. More treatments may be necessary if there is chronic sciatica, or reoccurring pain. For more information about acupuncture for the treatment of sciatica contact Dr. Richard Browne.