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.
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. Acute pain may resolve in a few sessions. More treatments may be necessary if there is chronic sciatica, or reoccurring pain.
The National Institutes of Health states that acupuncture is an acceptable alternative to conventional therapies for low back pain. It has been estimated that up to 80% of the world’s population experience back pain at some point in their lives, with the lower back as the most common location of pain. Acupuncture can maintain treatment outcomes for up to six months or longer without the negative side effects that occur with traditional treatment regimes. Look in your local yellow pages for a licensed acupuncturist for treatment of sciatica. For more information on Acupuncture treatment contact Dr. Richard Browne at 305.595.9500.