Can Acupuncture Help Sciatica Pain?
Now more than ever people are looking for natural and holistic remedies for sciatica pain. Sciatic is a common pain problem that ends up affecting nearly 40% of Canadians at some point in their adult life. While more serious cases of sciatica are treated with surgery, people dealing with less intense bouts have been seeking acupuncture as a way to speed up recovery and alleviate their pain.
As a Licensed Acupuncturist practicing in West Edmonton, I have seen patients use acupuncture to treat a wide range of issues from gut health to chronic back and neck pain and also sciatica. If you are experiencing issues with your Sciatic nerve or pain throughout your lower back and legs, acupuncture can be an effective tool in your treatment plan. Acupuncture works to lessen the pain and help speed up your recovery so you can get back to doing the things you love — pain-free.
This post will dive into sciatica and explain what it is and how it affects different people. Then we will explore acupuncture and how it can be an effective treatment option for sciatica. Then we will dive into some recent research that supports the use of acupuncture for treating and managing sciatica. Finally, we will walk through how to take the next steps if you are interested in trying a holistic approach to your sciatica pain.
What is Sciatica?
Sciatica is when a person has intense pain felt across their sciatic nerve; a nerve that starts at the lower back and travels to the hips, butt and down each of the legs.
A person can have sciatica along any part of this route but it is often experienced at the lower back and the back of the legs. While the way sciatica can feel depends on the person and the root cause (ranging from injury to herniated disk or overgrown bone) it typically feels like electricity or a hot burning sensation. (In 90% of cases, sciatica is caused by a herniated disc with nerve root compression). Thankfully, most cases of sciatica clear up after a few weeks however more persistent cases often require medical intervention. Even if sciatica is likely to clear up in a few weeks' time for most, it can be very painful and affect your quality of life in the meantime.
What is Acupuncture?
You are probably familiar with the practice of acupuncture — the placing of small needles into different parts of the body. But acupuncture has a long and rich history in ancient Chinese medicine and has been around for centuries.
In Chinese medicine, the body is believed to be filled with an invisible life force called qi. When qi is flowing as it should throughout the body without interruption, a person has good mental and physical health. When qi is blocked or not flowing in the right direction, a person will become sick or unwell.
Depending on what the illness is, acupuncture needles are placed on certain points of the body to redirect the flow of qi and make things right throughout the body. There are different acupuncture points on the body for different illnesses and a skilled acupuncturist will know exactly which ones to use depending on your symptoms and disease.
According to traditional Chinese practitioners, sciatica belongs to the gallbladder meridian of the foot-Shaoyang (GB) and the bladder meridian of the foot-Taiyang (BL). This means that acupuncturists use two main points to treat sciatica: the Yanglingquan (GB 34) and Huantiao (GB 30). An acupuncturist will place needles in these two points to redirect the flow of qi and heal sciatica.
Also Read: Can Acupuncture Help With Anxiety
Does Acupuncture Help Sciatica Pain?
While there is still a lot of research that needs to be done in terms of the efficacy of acupuncture in the treatment of sciatica pain (although clinical studies are increasing), preliminary findings have been extremely positive.
For example, a 2015 paper published in the National Library of Medicine called The Efficacy of Acupuncture for the Treatment of Sciatica: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis found that acupuncture was more effective than medication for individuals experiencing sciatica pain.
They also found several studies that concluded that acupuncture was successful in lowering pain symptoms in people with sciatica when compared with medication. However, it is important to mention that there were only a small number of studies at the time to review. This means the sample size was small. As more clinical studies are done and the sample size increases, researchers will be able to measure the success of acupuncture in the treatment of sciatica and provide more definitive conclusions.
Acupuncture For Sciatica in West Edmonton
I have been a Licensed Acupuncturist in West Edmonton for almost a decade and have treated countless patients with a variety of issues. I have seen firsthand how beneficial acupuncture can be for the treatment of sciatica pain.
If you are interested in trying a more holistic approach to your health and well-being, Acupuncture is a fantastic option. Acupuncture can be used as a treatent on its own or combined with massage — and thankfully combo treatments are also often covered through your insurance plan.
If you are dealing with sciatica pain, please reach out today. We can create a treatment plan that gets at the root cause of the issue and work to lessen the pain so you can improve the quality of your life and get back to doing the things you love. Whether you are experiencing sciatica, chronic pain issues, gut problems, anxiety or something else, acupuncture is an effective and helpful tool at your disposal.