Sciatica is basically a pain in the butt! It can be caused by a lower back injury or complicate an existing lower back problem. Also long term deterioration of the lower spine discs can lead to sciatica. Other patients can experience a variation on the location of pain with it sometimes being in the lower back, other times in the buttock and yet at other times down the leg.
Depending on the location of the pain traveling down the leg, whether it is the front, back or side of the leg, will determine which acupuncture points are used to alleviate this condition. Sciatica can be complicated with numbness as well.
Sciatica occurs when a muscle spasm, the spinal discs, or sometimes even the spine itself pushes on the sciatic nerve and causes pain.
In traditional Chinese medical thought, there is more than one cause of sciatica. For instance, the Spleen in traditional theory controls the muscles and flesh and hence if the Spleen is weak in some way, the muscles can’t hold and tone the bones to be in their correct place which in turn affects the energy flow and causes blockage. There is a saying in Chinese medicine, “Where there is blockage, there is pain”. Acupuncture fundamentally just helps restore the electricity moving between nerves and promotes blood circulation and thus stimulates the rejuvinative capacity of the body to allow self healing to take place.
On the other hand, western medicine prescribes anti-inflammatory medications along with muscle relaxants. Narcotics also may be prescribed for short-term pain relief. Tricyclic antidepressants and anticonvulsant drugs are sometimes used even though there is no real understanding of why they sometimes relieve pain in the immediate short term. Many patients seek acupuncture after having tried various drugs without success and or worried about their accumulative undesirable side effects.
There have been numerous clinical studies on the efficacy of acupuncture for pain relief including those for low back pain and sciatica. Western medicine research had confirmed that acupuncture can release endorphins, a natural occurring morphine as well as stimulate circulation of stem cells.
Acupuncture has successfully treated sciatica for over 2000 years.