Sciatica, Low Back Pain and Acupuncture
Sciatic pain or Sciatica is a very common complaint we see in our clinic. There are many reasons people experience sciatic pain. Nearly 8 of 10 people that experience low back pain will experience sciatic pain and some point. Pain can stem from an injury, low back issues, getting out of a car, twisting wrong and a number of other reasons. The bottom line is that sciatica can cause a real pain in the butt.
In the most severe cases, someone will experience pain from the low back, through the buttocks, along the hamstring, through the calf and into the foot. Most of the time it doesn’t start that severe. It usually starts with a tight or painful back then the pain works its way into the butt and down the leg. The pain can be severely debilitating. On a pain scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is excruciating, the pain can reach 11.
The anatomy of the sciatic nerve is shown in the diagram. When someone is experiencing low back pain around L4/L5 area, inflammation can cause pinching of the nerve. When this occurs, the person can start feeling sciatic pain. As the nerve travels down the leg, it interacts with the piriformis muscle. If this muscle becomes inflamed, the person can experience the pain in the butt I mentioned early.
The Good News
Acupuncture is one of the best therapies for treating low back pain and sciatica. Your acupuncturist will use needles in your low back to reduce inflammation and move stagnant Qi in the area. Stagnation of Qi in Chinese medicine causes pain. Much like a car accident on a highway. Once the accident is moved the traffic will flow freely again. Same concept in acupuncture. Additional points may be used in the buttocks and lower on the leg to relieve the inflammation and stagnation. This intern returns the body to balance thus eliminating pain.
There are additional modalities that can be used as well. Electrical stimulation of the needles will speed up the healing process. Cupping can be used to relieve the Qi stagnation and pain as well.
The next big question we get asked is how many treatments will it take. The correct answer is that it “depends”. Typically, the longer or more chronic the sciatic pain has been there the more treatments it will take. Since every patients is unique and responds differently, there isn’t an exact answer. There should be some relief after the first couple of treatments.
Our best recommendation is to come in and get treated at the onset of back pain or sciatic pain. The sooner the better for healing. It takes fewer treatments as well. Additionally, getting your energy balanced can help with prevention.
Please call with any questions or refer someone to us that we can help!